Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cultivating Pleasure

The sun is shinning.  It is warm and humid.
We woke this morning to birds singing and the ever present humming of the cars driving by just out of sight.  The view of farm fields and little farm houses tucked between the rolling hills visible from the windows of our room belie the proximity to town. 
We are all still a little tired after arriving at my father's house in the wee hours of  Wednesday morning.

My father proudly gave us a tour of the yard, coffee cups in hand, and we admired his strawberry plants, tomatoes, peppers, squash, onions, fennel, peas and beans.

His yard is something to which I hope ours will someday aspire.  While I have been raging war on the sod in our yard, here there all ready are well established garden beds, filled with beautiful perennials, interspersed with plots of edible plants.  There are covered walkways and sitting areas over which thick stemmed grape, hardy kiwi and wisteria spread their bows.

The roses here are in full bloom, back home the blush of the petals is just becoming visible.  Everything is a little taller, lusher, farther ahead than the plants in my garden. Summer came to my dad's yard weeks before it reached ours.

Before we left, I finished constructing the bean trellis, pulled the persistent blades of grass that keep  appearing around our new strawberry plants, planted all of our cucurbits and filled in gaps in rows with beet and kale seeds.  As I have been swinging a pick ax and carting buckets full of rhizomes and grass lumps across our yard, our next door neighbors have been seeding grass, buying sod and diligently watering their lawn in spite of rain.

I have been wondering why exactly I do what I do?  Why do I have the need to pull up perfectly good lawns were every I go?  Oh sure, I could justify my actions with an ideologically based rant on food miles, the importance of eating local, organic foods, my fear of GMOs and my belief that reclaiming our food system is an important mechanism for delivering power back to the people, and while all those reasons are important on a social, political and ecological scale, it isn't what draws me my out into the garden.
What keeps me going outside to dig in the dirt is pure simple pleasure.
The pleasure of transformation -  of watching a bland and boring yard into something that flowers, smells and tastes delicious.  The pleasure of discovery - of watching my kids find bugs and worms and carry them around the yard and watching their faces when they finally realize that those strawberry plants are STRAWBERRY PLANTS!!!! when the first few hard green fruits appear.  The pleasure of a sharing - of being able to share our experience, our abundant harvests as well as the freshly sealed jars that line our counters at the end of the growing season.
I want my children to love vegetables, to grow up eating healthy food and to become adults that make good food choices.  I want to have thick stemmed grape, hardy kiwi and wisteria wines in my garden when my children are raging their battles against their own lawns.
So for now, we visit goats and chickens, pick mint and putter around the yard cultivating pleasure.


  1. It's a good thing you left Oklahoma--maybe I will get up nerve to post photos of our sorry "garden":) What heat, drought, insects have not destroyed in the sorry "soil", the turtle has finished off. At least there are a few little tomoatoes for him to munch on this year. Last year there was not one blossom.... In north central Kansas, Jim did not even try a garden this year. Heat was too high too early, and it has been running 100-plus degrees every day. We just have to read about the nice gardens and plants in the places where the soil is good, there is adequate water, and the climate is a happier place for plants:( (Wish you could send some of your bounty this way!) Grandma

  2. lovely description Heidi! We are lucky now too since our yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet peas, delicata, and patapans are coming in. Dirk has been grilling alot!
    We miss all of you,