Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Amazing Grace and Sugar Snap Peas

With the weather being so April-like the past few days, and with the forecast calling for showers tonight and still more balmy weather this week, I couldn't resist planting a row of sugar snap peas early this morning.

OK, when it comes to gardening, I can get a little carried away. Not that I haven’t had success planting peas in February before, I’ve just never done it quite this early in the month. But then, whether as a result of climate change or just an unusual weather pattern, it's not been this balmy this early in the year that I can remember. And seeing crocuses about to bloom just creates the urge in a farm boy like myself, even in February.

With gardeners, hope springs eternal. Each new year is seen as the one that will finally break all records, for the tallest and most outstanding yellow sweet corn, the most productive harvest of green beans, the earliest and tastiest red tomatoes ever.

And getting my hands in the mellow topsoil along the sugar snap and pole bean trellises this morning reminded me again of how therapeutic gardening is. The dark brown earth required no tilling, this having been done when the garden was put to bed last fall. I was able to make a furrow with my bare fingers, the humus-rich soil feeling something like it must feel having your hands in a sand tray in some psychotherapist's office (not mine). I was taking part in what has become for me an annual healing ritual, prayerfully pouring in seeds and covering them with a benediction of soil and some life-giving compost.

And then to wait.

I see a vegetable garden is a metaphor for a productive life, made possible by a combination of miracle and muscle. Without the miracle of seed germination and plant growth and the amazing gifts of earth, sunshine and rain, nothing would grow, no matter what kind of effort we invest.

On the other hand, without a gardener to prepare the soil, plant some seeds, mulch or otherwise keep weeds from taking over, and sometimes providing some lifegiving extra blessing of water in the heat of summer, little of anything edible will result. It takes the combined work of both a great Creator and a dedicated caregiver to make this annual wonder happen.

So it is with living a productive and fruitful life, always a collaborative effort involving both unmerited grace and daily, down to earth discipline.

P. S. I was delighted to see that the Valley Conservation Council has invited Ohio Amish farmer David Kline to speak at a meeting in Montezuma next Wednesday, February 8. I've not yet met him, but have enjoyed reading two of his books and cite him in one of my blog posts "Going on the Amish Diet".

Note: Kline will also speak from 8:30 - 10 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9 at EMU's Common Grounds Coffeehouse in University Commons and at the chapel service in Lehman Auditorium from 10-10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 10. Admission is free for both events. For more information contact Jim Yoder at 540-432- or email
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