Americans like to talk about how hard we work. It’s a common fact that Americans take less vacation time than other nations, work longer hours, and reap fewer benefits. Many “white collar” jobs come with the expectation that one will work outside of office hours and will feel guilty when taking a sick day or vacation day. The concept of relaxation, if any is done at all, will happen with other coworkers through the drowning of exhaustion and irritation in drinks and fried food. Leaving work early is frowned upon, often despite stated company policy.
Hugh is 7 and a half months old and my garden is ripe within the heyday of summer. While both still require time and attention (more for the baby than the garden, obviously), lately the tide has shifted from constant analysis to moments of pure enjoyment.
Around this time each year, I have no choice but to shake free of the failures of my garden and enjoy the successes. It’s too late to replant a crop that didn’t work. It’s too late to fill in a gap in one of the beds. This year, my tomatoes, eggplant, and delicata squash are either fruiting or setting flowers, promising future harvests in weeks or months. The potatoes have flowered and the potato plants are beginning to wilt, sending their final bit of energy to the underground tubers. The basil is perky and richly green and the beans require constant picking. These are the highlights, and this year, more than any year in the past, I’m reveling in them.
Given the constraints in my current life—namely, time and energy—I had assumed that this year’s garden had the potential to become an added source of stress or, at the very least, an activity that added work and not joy.
Instead, Justin often proudly remarks that it’s the most productive and healthy garden I’ve (we’ve) ever grown. I nod and agree, with a sense of incredulity. When I look out from our front porch, frequently with Hugh bouncing on my lap, I see our largest raised bed flush with potato plants. These plants set their purple flowers a few weeks ago and I have plans to dig up some for new potatoes and leave the rest in the ground until the plants die back, dreaming of a root cellar (basement) full of storage potatoes this autumn. In front of that raised bed grows our lush, slightly wild, very colorful perennial shrub and flower garden.