Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Green thumbs and muddy shoes

They say gardening is good for the soul. Digging in the dirt helps remind us of the good and tangible things in life. In a world run by the button-pushers and electronic messengers, sometimes it just feels good to touch something solid. 

I also think gardening is good for the child in you.

The other day after a heavy rain, I pulled on my heavy boots and took my son outside with seeds and shovels in hand. The dogs danced around us and played in the grass while we looked over our small patch of garden and debated where to plant our peas, zuchinni, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs. The sun felt so good after a long winter and wet, chilly start to spring.

We dug and planted for about 30 minutes, which is all a busy toddler can really handle. I carefully pushed seeds into each hole while Maddox drizzled them clumsily, spilling peas into the grass. He loves "helping" and watching his enthusiasm made me smile.

Gardens are wonderful places for children. It's a place of quiet solitude, brooding thoughts, shared times, and simple sucesses. One of the best places to grow up is in a garden where trial and error don't hurt so badly and heavy burdens can be dug deep into the ground and buried for a while.

Maddox might still be too young to remember these early times together. He may not even know that the seeds we planted are now the same peas peeking out of the ground and beginning to wind upwards, gowing and climbing to find the sun.

But what he will remember is that he and mommy were never afraid to get our hands dirty and the mud on our boots is okay, that it was earned together. 

We still haven't quite figured out the Southern growing season, but that's okay to. Last year we happily shared zuchinni muffins, zuchinni lasagna, and even breaded and baked zuchinni fries from monstrous vegetables. But that's not the only reaon why I started the garden. Sometimes the process is more important than the final product. 

Here's a video of Maddox last year helping me "water" the plants.

And just as a side story, I've decided to share an interesting article from the San Francisco Chronicle about a gardener who took over a vacant lot and turned it into a miniature farm. Urban farms are nothing new, but the city now wants the gardener to buy an expensive permit to continue sharing with the community.

Looking at the pains this gardener took to transform the plot of land, I kept thinking what a wonderful learning experience it would be for local children who visit and the benefits they receive being nourished by the fruits of her labor.

What a terrible loss if city regulations brought it all to a sudden halt.

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