First published in Franklin Journal
A full morning was spent here helping out Mother Nature. Here in Maine, we are in great need of rain. Where I sit in the Western Mountains, the rain that does come through, seems to mostly go above or below our locale. Until this week, I’ve been able to get by with the watering can, but the last few days I’ve had to resort to hosing everything down. We don’t own a “sprinkler” hose attachment. We’ve never needed to water so much that this was necessary. I spend an hour or so watering the gardens and lawn each morning and evening. I like it. It’s time which I spend thinking, musing on the day, and listening to the birds. Today their chatter was calling for rain. I was fortunate to have the benefit of clouds here and there and a gentle breeze cleansing the humidity from the air, along with the threat of having to work a little harder at breathing; all pieces of Mother Nature working hard to thrive, in spite of the efforts of us human beings trying to thwart her best efforts.
I had moved about the yard and adjusted the velocity of water I applied to the lawn, potted plants, and my various flower gardens and vegetables. I know some folks might say watering the lawn is a waste of water. I think we have to be prudent with all of our resources. Lawns can provide food for various birds and insects feeding on other insects. Indeed, later in the afternoon, my lawn filled with birds and harvested what I suspect were tasty morsels who may have thought they had been tricked into making their presence known.
As I watered and deadheaded my gardens, I remembered my mother. She called her gardening attire, her “Daisy Mae’s”. Blond-haired, Daisy Mae, for those who may not be aware or have forgotten, was from the comic strip “Lil’ Abner”. Here in the United States, Canada and Europe, it appeared in the Sunday newspaper, 1934 – 1977. Daisy Mae was a resident of the impoverished village of Dogpatch, USA. She wore a super short skirt, a scanty top and was hopelessly in love with Abner, a prominent mountain village resident. I’m not sure of the connection with my mom. She was from Boston, wore a denim, knee length, wrap around skirt; an old top; and gardened barefoot. Maybe it was her bare feet. It certainly wasn’t her red hair, which would be wrapped in a kerchief. She would move about her property, bending and scooching here and there to snag a weed, move a plant, or harvest from one of her several gardens. While I have never shared her choice of gardening attire, I definitely have always shared a kinship with her when it comes to gardening. I remember proudly bringing home a marigold I had sprouted in kindergarten. It was magical to plant a seed in soil, give it some water, and bam! It becomes something more. Keep watering it, and it most often becomes a bigger something more. I have not lost my awe over the magic that is Mother Nature.
I used to maintain a vegetable garden each year, in which I grew about 48 tomato plants, corn, potatoes, beans, carrots, and occasionally beets. Beets are tricky, and while I enjoy gardening, I don’t have the patience for tricky beets. Besides growing most of our food, I worked full-time outside of our home. One summer evening, knowing I had the next day off, my husband came in and wanted to know if I wanted the corn picked, so I could process it and freeze it the next day. I declined, saying that I would pick it fresh in the morning. I guess the raccoons were eavesdropping and agreed with my husband. The next morning I discovered the garden littered with corn cobs. I wasn’t the first to have this experience and wouldn’t be the last.
I enjoy gardening, but I no longer grow as many vegetables. I definitely plant fewer tomatoes and make use of container gardening. I plant several different kinds of herbs, peppers, and different varieties of kale. I could grow more vegetables, but I choose to spend more time on my flower gardens and help feed the bees. I can also harvest fresh food at my farmer’s market from growers who enjoy vegetable gardening far more than I.
I appreciate that I can support them and by extension, support my local economy. It’s a partnership that works and allows me more time for writing, flower gardening, and playing in the prolific, Maine sunshine.