I water the pots on the deck, one by one. I smile, noticing the incremental changes from the day before, from last week. The lettuce leaves are bigger, darker, curlier. The scallops on the edges of the sprouts of parsley are just that much more pronounced. The horseradish seems to shadow half of the container. The spindly soybean vine reaches another rung on its bamboo and twine ladder. And just peeking out, a shy barely-pink strawberry.
I’m new at gardening. It’s a grand experiment, really. I don’t know if anything I grow will actually be worth eating. I hope it will be. I have faith that these little plants will know what they are supposed to do, because I certainly don’t know what I’m supposed to do, besides providing a little water and some food.
If this summer’s experiment goes well, I’m considering fencing in a portion of our yard to do a “real” garden. Time will tell. Northern Arizona is not a very easy place to garden. At a mile high, we have cold winters and hot summers. And the gusty wind is dry and brutal. In the spring, the temperatures fluctuate wildly, luring the trees into bloom just to freeze again the following week. And here in our neighborhood the deer, bunnies, and javelinas truly believe that much of my flower bed is for their benefit.
The gardening process seems a lot like parenting. I give these plants a little space to grow, a little nourishment, a dose of sun, and I cross my fingers. I haven’t had to instill much discipline yet, but the plants are all so small still. I am proud of their progress although I feel it has little to do with me. Maybe the wind won’t blow too much. Maybe this year we won’t be visited by the grasshoppers that leap from the ground like popping corn. Maybe it will rain – but not too much, not too hard. I hope there is just enough adversity to make them strong. I hope and I hope and I hope.