In World War I and II, civilians in both America and overseas joined in a collaborative effort to bring relief to the troops enormous food needs by growing their own gardens. Back yards, school yards, vacant lots, window boxes, and roof tops all became prime real estate for growing civilian food. This effort became known as the Victory Garden. In the middle of death, darkness, and uncertainty, civilians got dirt under their fingernails. They took what they had, and did their best to make a very beautiful thing emerge out of the dark places underneath. Let’s do that, too.
We are in a dark time. (Pause for you to roll your eyes at this prodigiously overused phrase). My family and others with medically sensitive family members are looking ahead into month after month of isolation and uncertainty. When I look ahead into those months, my head swims with the loneliness of it all. Right now, I am calling myself back into a thinking that I had learned to employ when Jack was on hospice. Live only in the moment my toes are touching. And keep busy. As a nation, let’s put down our confounded phones, and do something better.
Instead of wringing our hands, let’s put them in the dirt and see if we can’t make something of it.
We live in a little rental home in the suburbs. Not the idyllic farm house I had dreamed of. Not the cottage by the sea all covered with lupines. No. Our yard is a cubicle, and our landlord is particular about his grass. If it were up to me, our lawns would be torn out and replaced with rows of vegetables and a chicken coop so I could keep a flock of hens again. I’d probably wear a green cloak and have a raven on my shoulder. I don’t have an abundant amount of agency in my life, but I do have my mind. I will just have to make do with buckets. And pallets. And secret corners of lawn. I can get all bent out of shape about being stuck in a perpetual purgatory of rentals (and I do – just ask the Bearded Wonder) or I can just look at what I have and do my best with it.
We are stuck at home, and the claustrophobia is stifling. Also, the reality that our world is engaged in a complicated dance with biological threat, economic ruin, and profound hopelessness. We are at war, in a way. I realize that this is just such a millennial thing to say, I have never been personally affected by war. But this whole virus thing, feels an awful like a war to me. Twiddling my thumbs isn’t my thing, so I’ve done a little bit of mini-gardening. Just having a reason to get outside while it’s still cool outside in order to water my plants and protect them from the incredible heat, is helping me to maintain a vital schedule. Otherwise, I lay in bed till a child jumps on my face and that’s no way to begin a day. Getting myself outside to my plants, with the hope of an eventual harvest allows myself to sow into a future that feels so uncertain to me.
I am growing my own little Victory Garden. I am hoping and growing and waiting for something to come of it. I am sweating and weeding and distracting my anxious heart with something extremely physical. Dirt, leaves, water, sun. Victory.
Recipe for a low stress Victory Garden:
home depot buckets
burlap coffee sacks purchased from a local indie coffee shop (thanks Bridge Coffee)
potting soil from the locally owned nursery
seeds or seedlings
Combine all ingredients. Add water daily. Repeat.
P.S. Don’t forget to drill holes in the bottom of your bucket for proper drainage.
I’m a writer,
I’m a sinner,
I’m a chronically mystified beginner.
God has given me ashes, I handed them back and asked for something pretty. He was pleased to oblige.