By Hannah Wallace January 24, 2011

Started a garden this weekend. Pa came over with some boards and built a box to keep the good soil from dispersing among the sand. Not doing that last time was our first mistake—and the only one it took to doom our veggies, save for that plucky head of lettuce that emerged, surprisingly, among the advancing grass, about three months after we’d surrendered all hope. Plucky little guy. He inspired me to try again.

I don’t suppose I’m the kind of person you’d expect to enjoy gardening, as an activity, but I find it incredibly soothing. I discovered that relaxation effect while weeding the plant beds in the front yard, arranging rocks and mulch. But the front yard is an aesthetic activity, and one I’m not likely to make much more headway on, so I figure growing vegetables provides a more appreciable goal.

We went to Lowes and bought little packs of seeds on whims, dreaming of homegrown salads with blissful ignorance of choices that may be less-than-ideal for our conditions—that is, sandy, hot and forgetful. Tomatoes, romaine, spinach, squash, fennel, etc. It’s a sort of “throw it in the dirt and see what grows” approach. I figure if I don’t look into it too much, then any success we have will be that much more rewarding.

That’s my approach to cooking, too. Alas. I shudder to think of kids going through school with the same attitude.

The simple act of clearing the space, turning the dirt and removing the grass and weeds, already has me addicted. I think this weekend I told Mrs. Harrible about four different times how excited I was to “go work in the garden,” and we haven’t even planted anything yet. I guess it’s a productive diversion, like running, but less painful. Or meditative, like letting your eyes occupy themselves with television reruns while your mind takes a few deep breaths.

And as someone who needs an excuse for anything I do, I think this is a good one. We haven’t been spending a lot of time in the back yard on weeknights. Or outside at all, really, unless we’re doing some obligatory exercise. This way, I figure, I’ll have to go out there for the watering and weeding, and the fresh air will do me good. And while we’re out there, hey, there’s a grill, we may as well cook dinner. Eventually maybe we’ll pick squash right off the vine for our grilled shish kabobs.

Is that what squash grows on—a vine?

Anyway, the outside could use the attention, too. While dinner’s cooking, after the veggies have been tended, I’ll be able to give the shrubbery some TLC, clean up under the orange tree, just generally organize the crap that we’ve collected back there. And then, eventually, I can kick back in those nice Adirondack chairs we hardly ever use, maybe crack a beer, do some nothingness that doesn’t involve Wheel of Fortune and SportsCenter. Watch the stars come out.

Gardening is all about what you do in the meantime.

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