7 Quick Takes: In which I think I can garden, for some reason

1.  Never mind “you can never step into the same river twice”  — you can never dig the same garden twice.  This is my fourth year gardening in this Heraclitean yard, and every year I dig up something that wasn’t there last year.  Soccer ball-sized rocks, for instance, in a spot which was groomed and aerated to a fine, soft bed last year:

But also strange blue spoons, door knobs, legless action figures of obscure wrestlers, flattened marbles — and, unnervingly, what appears to be broken sections of sewer pipe.  Probably just some extra pipe that isn’t for anything in particular, right, heh heh heh?  Well, maybe I won’t have to fertilize this year.

2.  My kids are lazy.  L-A-Z-Y.  They get plumb tuckered out after tugging feebly at a piece of clover or two, and have to go put their feet up and watch Wonderpets with some ice water for a while.  I’d call them pansies, but . . .

3.  I actually admire pansies now.  I don’t generally care for floppy flowers, and the weird markings on their faces always reminded me of those irritating, simpering lap dogs:

But they are so tough!  They bloom from early spring to late fall, they live through snow, they perk up after being stomped on.  They just put their heads down and focus on being flowers.  So now I like pansies.

4.  I feel the same way about earthworms.  How wonderful to be designed so simply, and to do one thing so well for your whole life!  Or maybe I just can’t help identifying with something that’s really just all about digestion.

Go, worms!

On the other hand, I guess you could say the same about mosquitoes, and I do not feel the same way about them.  Stupid circle of life.

5.  If I were you, I wouldn’t go up to a worn-out grandmultipara who is feeling old, haggard, useless, baggy, and drained and ask, “Mama, what does ‘gone to seed’ mean?”  Even if you were just thinking about dandelions.

6.  Also from the Department of Taking Gardening Too Personally:  The seed packet says “thin seedlings when they reach a height of 3-4″.”  We’ll see, we’ll see.

7.  Some people truly don’t enjoy gardening, and do it out of duty or something.  Some people start out all enthusiastic

and then suddenly hate it very much.

Still others have this expression on their face the whole time they’re working in the dirt:

but they are very, very happy.

Bonus 8:  My daughter says she remembers how, last year, we used to go outside and EAT stuff, and that was FUN! And why we don’t have a venchable garden this year?  (She doesn’t consider basil to be a venchable, I guess.  What is this, June?  Maybe it’s not too late!)


  1. The dog/pansy photos are hilarious! I hate pansies, too, but they sure are hardy. They’re almost like a weed once you get them going. My husband says weeds are misunderstood. They are merely “plants out of place.” Sheesh!

    • My husband has the same attitude– “We just don’t value hardiness enough.” Otherwise I’d be delighted with all the hardy weeds sprouting up amidst my sad little plantings…

      Oh, and the FUNNEST pansies in the world are Johnny Jump-Ups (at least that’s what we call them.) Purple on top and then solid yellow or orange on the bottom. Loud. Obnoxious. Love em…

  2. 1. I used to live in a wonderful, fertile floodplain in southeast Michigan. You only had to *think* about a plant, and there it was, fully formed and groaning with produce. Now I’m here in New England, where the soil vomits up soccer ball sized rocks like it’s nothing. I’m finding it impossible to believe that the Pilgrims actually existed here. I think it’s along the lines of moon landing-deniers. Pilgrims growing enough food to sustain life in New England soil is preposterous. Unless they ate rocks.

    2. Pansies are awesome. Plus, you can eat them. Maybe the Pilgrims ate them, too.

    3. I have mild-to-moderate panic attacks when I have to thin out seedlings. This would explain why my carrots, which should be about ready to harvest, are these half-inch-long jokes, with luxurious tops. If Pilgrims ate carrots, they were clearly more blood-thirsty than I am. And less hysterical.

  3. I’m impressed. I used being pregnant during the spring as an excuse to avoid gardening. I have a love-hate relationship with vegetable and fruit gardening. We have apple trees, which I loathe, since I’m allergic to apples. We have a sour cherry tree, and I’m hoping the baby arrives before the cherries are ripe so I have another valid excuse to avoid picking and pitting those damn cherries.

  4. The expression looks like what my friend’s five-year old did yesterday when they were done gardening and he was told that he could not dig in the middle of the grass. Oh yeah, I live vicariously through blogs and IRL friends because I don’t have kids yet.
    I had to look up grand multipara. I hope I can call myself that some day… probably not, though, since I’m 32 and not even a, um, single-para yet.
    Jeanne G.

  5. Cari,
    Blame it on the glaciers–that’s why all those NE farmers moved to Iowa, Michigan and where ever they could as soon as they could.

    • Yeah, at least in Michigan, the glaciers did something useful- like making lakes. New England must be like the black sooty melt line you see at the edge of the road in late winter- all the rocks were dropped off there as the water melted back.

  6. I hate yard work so the only garden produce we have is boysenberries which grow like weeds in our backyard. (I’m not kidding — I stuck a few sprigs from my mom’s boysenberry vines into the ground when I moved here a few years ago, and it’s turned into a monster vine.) It seems to love our sandy soil — this used to be wine country — and bears profusely. The thorns are killer, but wearing heavy duty, Playtex living gloves and one of my son’s tightly woven, long sleeved, twill shirts makes picking the berries possible. I’m freezing the excess to enjoy the rest of the year, but even this minimal gardening effort exhausts my meager tolerance for interacting with Mother Nature.

    P.S. If you have grass you have a better backyard than we do. I think my son is cultivating weeds.

  7. Really relating to the pictures of your adorable daughter – enthusiasm wanes *very* quickly in my children. When I moved here four years ago, I determined that I would only plant perennials so that, each year, I would enjoy a more and more beautiful garden with less and less work. Didn’t quite work out that way – but I do truly love my gardens and TO garden more each year. So it’s all working out 🙂

  8. You’ll find rocks EVERY year. Farmers around here plow up new ones every year in fields they’ve been cultivating for 40 years or more. It’s natural, you know.

    As to the drain-tile, it’s most likely that your yard was someone else’s dump at one point in history.

  9. We let our children dig holes in the backyard (I only cultivate flowers in two small beds back there) but we keep buying bags of dirt to fill them up again so the holes don’t get too big. So, this morning I was feeling adventurous and went out and bought 160 lbs of dirt to fill the holes. I usually let my husband do this part, and now, with an aching back, I remember why.

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