Monday, February 23, 2015

My magic garden

It might not be the prettiest, but we like it!
This past week, I re-started a little gardening project. It's something I've tried in fits and spurts with varying degrees of success.  I bought our seeds packets and soil, and I already had some pots, so I felt poised for success this time. But I forgot to factor in the wild card: my three-year-old son.  

Wild card indeed.  As Skyler, Lilly and I were busy and careful putting a few seeds in one pot at a time, he grabbed a couple seed packets and poured them in random amounts into pots we had already planted other seeds in.  Then he got ahold of the hose.  When I went inside to get something, Jayna started to ask me why I was soaked.  Before she had even finished the question, she said, "Oh wait... Wyatt?"  

I nodded ruefully.

To make a long story short, there was some screaming, some yelling, and lots of misdirected water.  When it was all said and done, I can say that I know which kind of seeds were planted, but I have absolutely no idea what will come up where.

It reminds me, though, of the magic garden I had when I was ten.  I don't remember exactly why or where they came from, but my mother one day showed me a few unlabeled envelopes of seeds.  She told me they were for carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and cabbages.  We planted most of them in the backyard where our dogs promptly dug up most of our hopes of having a homegrown garden.

Except for the the carrots and cabbage -- well, two carrots to be precise.  They grew and made huge plumes of green above the ground, which we all admired as we counted down the days till we could harvest them.  There might have been only two, but it was fairly obvious that they would be the two juiciest, sweetest carrots that ever grew.  The whole family gathered ceremoniously around our two carrots when the day finally arrived.  We held our breath as Mom knelt to the ground, and with a gentle tug, the plants came out.

And then we looked to see if maybe part had been left in the ground.  

Our carrots were no more than two inches long.  After that gorgeous greenery that had been above the soil, we couldn't believe our eyes.  

"Well, maybe they'll taste good," Mom said as we returned to the house.  They definitely did not.  In fact, they were probably the worst carrots I've ever tasted.  Eating a piece of wood would be more enjoyable.

But there were still my cabbage seeds, which I had planted in a little patch of rich black soil by the front gate.  There was just the right amount of sunshine and shade, and I tended them carefully.  It wasn't long before there were tiny green leaves poking out of the ground.  The leaves grew bigger, and the plants were -- well, I had never grown cabbage before, but they were looking more like plants than round heads of cabbage.

I decided to ask my mom about it.  She assured me that they would start to get round soon... But they didn't.  I asked her again.  This time she told me many different kinds of cabbage existed and this must not be as round as others.  But I was really starting to doubt her gardening knowledge because they just got taller and more "plant" looking every day.

And then there were flowers -- pretty little stars in a lovely shade of lavender.  

"Mom," I said, "do cabbages have flowers?

My mom also decided at this point that maybe gardening knowledge wasn't her strongest suit.  We waited to see what would happen next, and sure enough, out of the flowers came little purple balls. It was... Eggplant.  Absolutely delicious eggplant.

And that went down in family lore as our magic garden, where the most beautiful-looking carrot plants produced inedible wooden carrots, and cabbages turned into eggplants.

The magic garden is one of those things that I think back on often as I go through my life.  Like the carrots, I've "planted seeds" that I carefully tended and guarded and nurtured.  I've expected good things, especially when, by all appearances, everything appeared waswonderful.  These are friendships, activities, and ministries that I poured myself into.  But when the critical moments of truth came, the "fruit" was unsatisfactory at best, heart-breaking at worst.  

But sometimes, what grows out of those "seeds" is wonderfully surprising.  My kids!  My marriage!  Or other friendships and experiences... To tell the truth, I like eggplant much more than cabbage, and in life, I love when my efforts yield fruits that are more than I expected -- when I look back at something and realize it was so much better than I ever imagined possible.

So just like the garden we planted last week, which I'll keep tending and caring for no matter what comes up where, I keep planting these little seeds in my life, nurturing them, hoping for the best, even when it's disappointing.  When it breaks my heart a little.  Because ultimately, what comes up is what makes life interesting. Or even -- dare I say it? -- magical.


  1. What a great post - loved hearing about your magical garden. Here's to more surprises and seeing what happens and less planning - especially on fun projects like these. Enjoying reading your fun and thoughtful little blog.

  2. Thanks so much, Tracey! :-)


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