Quite Contrary

I adopted my philosophy of picking my battles carefully about the time my oldest son began toddling. I was working fulltime outside our 200 year-old farmhouse that needed constant maintenance, and I gave up the dream of being SuperMom pretty quickly. Somehow, however, it never struck me as ironic that I also began gardening in earnest about that time.

We had just moved to Vermont from Germany, and most of my gardening experience was limited to growing tomatoes in containers or whatever would grow in the shady ‘yard’ that was the sole selling feature in our first basement apartment. But when we got to Vermont, the little gardening itch I’d scratched with a few potted flowers turned into a full-blown rash and, noticing that most people in our new town had gardens to mitigate grocery bills or give their families fresher food, I decided this was a battle I was going to fight – no matter how unrealistic.

The first year was actually pretty successful. I started with the Square Foot Gardening method whose claim to fame was that even someone like me who prefers pushing buttons to reading directions couldn’t screw it up. The think the garden books don’t tell you is how easily a little bit of success can inflate your head and your plans for the next year, and within 2 years I was tending a 40×40 garden. It’s battle I still can’t concede. Every spring I tell the Big Guy I’m going to trim it down, and every year dreams of a pantry stocked with dried soup makings result in more beds going in.

This spring began with the same resolution to confront my gardening addiction.

“I’m just going to plant perennial veggies in the big log,” I told the Big Guy. I made plans for a few smaller year-round salad beds, and that would be it. It took three days for that resolution to falter (although still a better track record than any of my dieting resolutions).

Six-year-old Thing2 is just discovering the church of baseball and is religious about getting the family outside for a nightly game of Catch in the Little League pre-season. In the early part of the season, Catch actually resembles a different game I call ‘Fetch’. Sunday night it was my turn to fetch, and as luck would have it, the ball had landed near the garden. I walked over, visions of the new, lower-maintenance plan in my head and noticed that the beds were all mostly ready for seeds and seedlings.

“You know,” I said, wondering who had turned in the garden so efficiently last fall (I didn’t remember doing it) and ignoring the fear that crossed the Big Guy’s face as it does whenever he senses I have a new idea, “I think I may just rotate my plan from last year.” I tossed the ball to our older son and turned to get a better look at the beds.

“What?!?” I heard the Big Guy yell the question. I looked at him and realized the loud query was the result of a plan unheard and not rejected. I repeated my idea, expecting the baritone voice of reason to set me straight. But just as it it’s a woman’s perogative to change her mind, it’s a man’s to surprise her every once in a while. “That’s a great idea,” he said, “why not plant more?

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