Gardener, Optimist


Gardeners are some of the most optimistic people you’ll ever find. Regardless of how disappointing last year’s crop may have been we’ll till, plant, water and weed again this year.

My love of gardening is a birthright. When I was a child my grandfather would take me on tours of his garden, pointing out all of the different vegetables. At the time I didn’t know a pole bean from a cucumber and I didn’t really care about the plants. What made me happy was spending one-on-one time with PawPaw. Even then I noticed how proud he was to show off his garden…even to a kid. When I got a little older he started teaching me about the Farmer’s Almanac. He swore by it and if I wanted to get him riled up I’d tell him the almanac was baloney. Those conversations were the few times he ever raised his voice at me; he didn’t realize I was ribbing him and he fell for it every time.

I’m also the daughter of a man who loved being outside. Dad preferred growing flowers over vegetables. As tempting as it was to sell the house and move into a retirement community, Dad couldn’t stand the thought of giving up his beloved acre. Today my yard blooms with canna lilies, peonies and irises born in his yard. I treasure those plants.

Given my love of gardening, today was another one of those best days ever:  planting day. Even a bad case of poison ivy, courtesy of last week’s adventure in the yard, couldn’t stop me. Today’s weather created the perfect occasion for this gardener to carpe diem and head to the local hardware store and buy an arm load.

I grabbed crooked neck squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, banana peppers, and watermelon. I’d already tucked five tomato plants in my herb garden, so I didn’t need any more of those. I picked up a pumpkin plant just for kicks. Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year and I thought it would be fun to carve Jack-o-lanterns I grew myself.

While in the checkout line I struck up a conversation with a guy who had the tanned, wrinkled skin of someone who’s outside a lot. I told him that since I only have weekends to plant and our weekends have been so rainy, I feared I was behind the eight ball. After bragging that he’s retired and does indeed garden daily he assured me I’m not too late.  I really liked that guy and found myself wishing he lived in my neighborhood.

Back home and in the yard, I planted.

And so ends one of my favorite days of the year, planting day. Soon I’ll likely curse the heat and the weeds, that is until I’m (hopefully) rewarded with my organic prizes. But tonight I’ll bask in the optimism only a gardener understands.

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