Saturday, April 12, 2014

Peas Don't Care

The tractor path to the farm. The pile of soil is behind the barn.
I don't consider myself an old person. Old to me is bent over, doddery, white-hair on a wobbly head, shuffling feet, the inability to tend to one's self. I'm thinking 100+ is old. I'm a long way from that, being just a couple of years shy of 70. That being said, there are parts of me that feel older than others and nothing brings that home more clearly than a day of gardening.

Spring gardening is a test of strength. Beds that I prepared in the fall need raking and tilling. New beds mean hauling wood and soil and manure from the farm next door. None of that sounds particularly strenuous because hauling, raking, tilling are just words. They tell nothing about trying to pick up a 6'x4' post with arthritic hands, dropping it, trying again, trying to find purchase without thumbs. They don't let you see how hard it is to drag an iron rake through soil that's been compacted by winter snow and ice. They don't come near to explaining the yank on the shoulders, the blisters on the palms, the strain in arm muscles as you pull a cart full of manure-rich soil across a long stretch of bumpy terrain. Everything is easy when you just talk about it.

The new raised squash bed.
I managed to shovel two loads of soil for a new raised bed into my little Garden Way cart (a salvaged gem from the Transfer Station) this morning, haul it from the farm next door to my little hillside garden patch and rake it smooth. Yesterday I'd tilled the pea patch and untangled the wire-draped posts that held last year's vines. I abandoned shovel and rake for a hammer and holding one post at a time, pounded the sharpened ends into the ground. See how easy that sounds? It leaves out the slipped hammer, the bruised thumb, the twist of the waiting post that grabbed the back of my sweatshirt with a jutting piece of wire, the hole in the sweatshirt and the choice words I had for the joys of gardening.

I took a lunch break and sat on my outdoor swing, contemplating the pea bed. The posts were standing straight but the line created by the unyielding chicken wire was a tad crooked. Surely pea seeds don't care if they grow in a slight curve. They'll reach up their cute little tendrils and grab on just as avidly to a crooked wire as a straight one. So sayeth this experienced pea planter. I know because they did so last year and the year before that and the peas were plump and sweet in spite of their serpentine rows.

The crooked fence,
To my dismay there was only one package of pea seeds in my garden bucket. The rest will have to be planted next weekend. Then the potatoes will go in the ground. The lull between them and the rest of the vegetables that wait till the end of May for the soil to be warm enough will give my blisters just enough time to heal.

Last year's crooked peas.


Brian Miller said...

i have been working on the beds the last couple weeks...that is what we get for leaving them alone for a full year...ha....i feel old after working on them all day...smiles.

Pauline said...

Brian - and you're just a kid! I made my garden much smaller last year so i could keep up with the work. I can't imagine never not having one.

Hilary said...

I haven't really tended a garden before and we do have one at this new place. The agreement is that it's Frank's job to handle. We'll see.

I am very impressed with your toiling. No doubt you'll reap wonderful rewards. And when you write.. yes, I can pretty much tell how hard the work. Your words always paint such descriptive scenes.

Judith said...

I'm ashamed to say I listened to the words alone all these years, and concluded that this was all easy for you. My bad! But I also believe that you truly love the labor and believe in it. Which must make a huge difference! Well explained, Pauline.
My hat (if I had one) is off to you!

Marc Leavitt said...


There is a time for everything in its season. Enjoy your gardening; just take a little more time to do it.

Out on the prairie said...

Got a small plot tilled and put in some cool weather crops. It snowed last night

Michael Manning said...

Gardening seems like a great activity for all ages.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Mind your peas and accuse!

Barbara said...

Your descriptions are so vivid that I felt your pain (and your pride and sense of accomplishment!) My grandmothers both gardened - mostly flowers in their later years, but I believe it's what allowed them to be active well into their 80's and 90's. I need to take up gardening...

Tabor said...

You are singing my son. Spring is such a hard working busy time.

Im A Chickadeegirl said...

You're absolutely right that hearing a story is not the same thing as living it! Your hard work and perseverance will pay off! :o) Yum, fresh peas straight from the garden.

Friko said...

You forgot to mention the all over ache after a day’s gardening.
You also forgot to mention the feeling of smug self-satisfaction that comes after a day out in the fresh air once the dirt has been scrubbed off and the first glass of wine has been poured.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

Michael Manning said...

Hilary expressed my thoughts so well. The hard work of gardening has a special reward of its own!

Pauline said...

Hilary - thanks. I love to be in the garden, playing in the dirt so the hard work is worth it, both for the fun of it and the harvest at the end :)

J - I do love it which is what makes it all worthwhile.

Marc - nature waits for no one!

OOTP - hope by now the snow is GONE!

Michael, there's no better place to be in the summer than in a garden!

JCN - I mind my peas and cukes ;)

Barbara - when will you have time? You're such a busy bee!

Tabor - and don't you just love it all?

Thanks for stopping by, Chickadee girl. Peas will be ready soon!

Friko - I don't drink wine so a cup of tea will have to do as a reward.

Thanks, Jerry.

Gary said...

Gardening IS hard work. The older I get the more interested I become in learning how to grow things. I tend to my little backyard but I don't grow any food. I love the idea though. Too bad we are not neighbors. We could share the labors and the riches. And you could teach me so much!

Pauline said...

Gary - just think of the conversations we could have while we plant and weed and hoe. Gardening is such a satisfying occupation, maybe because of the hard work involved.