“This summer sucks,” Dad commented. I had tried to resist this statement. After last weekend and the air gap in my new nitrate filter spurting water into every kitchen drawer, I was ready to accede his point.
“This summer sucks,” I said and plunked my feet on my redone coffee table for the first time, something I had previously avoided out of respect. Respect for all our ingenuity and steps forward. Respect that now seemed unnecessary like so many other things, this blog included.
“I need a blog post,” I demanded from my dog panting in the grass.
“I don’t have anything to write about,” I told my pillow steaming in the night.
I used to have ideas stacked up in my calendar. I was used to that. Not any of this. And what was this?
Well, the garden, I supposed. I was preserving food. I was cooking food. I was sharing food. I was having to combine ‘old’ food with the new, because somehow I hadn’t finished everything in time for new harvest. I blamed COVID-19 for this too. I hadn’t been packing lunches for the office so I wasn’t eating some snacks as often when bags of chips and buttered toast were a few steps away. What about the garden?
This past week, almost the last week of July, I walked down our still ravaged road, a tree carnivore’s dream. The garden and the recipes plunked up and down in my head. My eyes flitted back to the broken bark and dried leaves that now looked like animal fur matted in the grass. No trip to see family. No fair. No fun work outfits. Rivers through fields. “This summer suc-” I bit my tongue.
“Hmm. I loved those trees but they were where they didn’t belong. Funny how we didn’t lose the garden in all this rain,” Dad said as we came up the driveway.
Dad was right. For as much as I adored the shade and beauty of the fallen trees, we needed the garden more. Frozen kale and fresh peas. Stored carrots and dug parsnips. Dried apples and juicy rhubarb. New green tomatoes and old black raspberry jam. Things were still coexisting in different ways, in the ways that mattered.
In the winter, when we were told setting goals was healthy by employers and the local news, I sat one mindless Saturday brainstorming what I could set a goal about. Our family farm came to mind. I wrote down goals for 1 year, 2 years, 5 years and 10 years. The year one set of goals was mostly about tracking what the garden produced and why it might matter to others, usually in the form of recipes. Since April, when produce began to appear, I had tracked any unique combination under the title of “You Only Need One Row: Recipes of the Underappreciated and Overabundant”. My everlasting battle with using up kale came to mind initially in the title, but I managed to come up with other recipes too, slowly, anxiously, the way this blog began.
No. We hadn’t lost the garden. It still kept coming. Video phone calls. Still paid to work. Donations to charity. Fun cards in the mail. The garden. An idea for a blog post. Some things, important things, still keep coming.
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