Back in late June I blogged about all the wonderful things I did that month instead of writing. This was my first stint at our funky old cottage in Chautauqua, New York, and between plumbers and carpenters, cleaning and weeding out, and yes, meeting and enjoying the company of neighbors, I ended up with far fewer chapters than I’d expected. Instead, I went home refreshed and plunged right into the story. When you take time to fill the well, the water is clear and pure and the most arid of ideas suddenly blossoms.
In June I also did something utterly crazy. Despite a million things to do in my “new” house and yard, I took on a community garden plot. It was there. It was offered to me. I love to garden. Crazy or not, I said yes. Then I saw it. Because it had been someone else’s the year before, someoe who had decided at the last minute not to pursue it, the weeds were knee high. My heart sank. So many weeds, so little time. Somehow, I got them out, a few at a time as I walked by each morning with Nemo. Then it was time to plant.
I was planning to be gone for five weeks. What grows without tending for five weeks? I would plant and drive away. The organizer of the garden said she would do light watering and weeding while I was away, but would that be enough? No time for a fence, either. Would the plot survive rabbits, drought and anything else I wasn’t there to shoo away?
Call me an optimist, but I planted tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, zucchini, cilantro, rosemary, parsley, beans, hot peppers, and sweet peppers. In order to plant the tomatoes, I had to dig holes several feet deep so I could sink cages around them. I did battle with numerous rocks. No hope for this garden, I was sure, but I’d come this far. No point in stopping now.
On Saturday we arrived back at the cottage, and drove over to see the garden. I’ve never been more surprised. The garden is huge. I harvested three perfect cucumbers. There are dozens of hot peppers. The beans are on their way. Tomatoes? I’m hopeful, but there’s enough basil to make pints of pesto sauce, and even the cilantro is growing. We’ll be eating from the garden for the rest of the summer.
Life can be like this, and certainly novels can be. We till the ground, then we plant the seeds. And sometimes we leave our hard work behind, letting the fates and a few good friends nurture what we have begun. When we come back, the harvest is beyond our expectations. The craziest ideas sometimes bear fruit.
I have a new “series” idea in progress now. I’m laying the groundwork and planting the seeds. And I’m hopeful that someday when I come back to it, I will have a rich harvest for all of us to enjoy. More than ever, I trust the process. And when I forget to? I’ll remember my garden plot.
I’m already planning what I’ll grow next year.