Once upon a time, long long ago, I was married and lived on a farm. And on that farm we grew every conceivable vegetable, especially pumpkins because we were the primary pumpkin patch for all the school children in the county. I loved growing things. I gardened with tweezers, splayed out in the dirt, taking the pulse of every plant. I was an agricultural midwife.
One year I decided to grow a big patch of broccoli from scratch. I bought the best seeds and started the plants in our green house. I tended them as little broccoli embryos and when they were big enough, very carefully transferred them to their new home in a fifty by fifty foot patch in the middle of our field. Of course, I also planted all the other regulars, but oh, how I loved those little broccoli babies.
Every morning I would go out into the middle of the patch and beam with pride. I would strut up and down, fussing and clucking, caressing their leaves, affectionately adding nutrients to the soil. They were, as you would expect, perfect in every way.
One day… I noticed that some of the plants looked a little bedraggled. The leaves were drooping. There was a dastardly hint of yellow around some of the edges. Okay, I thought, taking a deep breath. These are small things. I can deal with this. I fretted and fussed some more. Tested the soil. Added some additional amendments, and watched like a hawk for them to respond. They didn’t.
I started to panic. They were depending on me. What was I doing wrong? I tried everything. I sat out in the middle of the field and talked to them. “Don’t worry. I’m here. I have your back. You can count on me.” I encouraged. Still, they continued to look puny.
In the meantime…the rest of the farm was struggling. The carrots were whimpering. “Over here. Look over here. Help. We’re being strangled,” they sputtered. Likewise, the lettuce, squash, cucumbers and on and on down the rows, all were getting buried beneath the weeds.
“Don’t bother me,” I shouted impatiently. “Can’t you see I’m busy? This is a life and death situation I’m dealing with.” I ignored the pleas and continued to wring my hands over my precious broccoli plants.
Then one morning at dawn I woke up and suddenly came to my senses. I went out and stood in the middle of the broccoli patch, and as the sun was peaking over the mountain, I put my hands on my hips and hollered. “FUCK IT. I’VE DONE MY BEST. I DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO. WORK IT OUT. YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN. I’M OVER IT.” I turned around and walked away.
Well, lo and behold… Go figure. They actually survived and eventually flourished in their own unique ways. Without me! There are life lessons to be found in every garden…