I’ve often wondered at people who have a green thumb. There is a certain calm patience, resilience and certainty about every person who I’ve known to be a good gardener. I think the gardening either is a good teacher or the gardeners are drawn to cultivation, the earth and good growing things. One thing I know for sure, where there is a gardener, there is a good friend to get to know.
Years ago, I was at a wedding shower for Jessica, a good friend of mine. Karen, who organized the shower, put together a series of questions for Jessica, asking her to describe several domestic themes (children, home, relationships, etc.) in terms of metaphor. I think it was part of a cute game but I cannot recall the clever way Karen asked the questions.
Anyway, Jessica described her children as a garden that she would cultivate and nurture. Right then an there I knew that I needed to learn a thing or two about gardening!
Up until that time in my twenties, I’d resisted learning much at all about gardening. It is hard work. I grew up weeding my mother’s garden and complaining about the bugs and sitting on my knees in the dirt under the hot sun. I’d killed every single houseplant I’d ever owned. And thinking about how unrelenting the weather, deer, bunnies and insects can be, I was afraid of the heartbreak of everything dying no matter what I did right. So, I figured it was a lot easier to go to a store or farmer’s market to get fruit and vegetables and to live in a townhouse where I didn’t have much of a yard.
Now the thing that got me thinking at that shower is that there is a connection to amazing people and gardening.
Jessica is one of those really neat people. She is the only person I knew from school who realized The Doctor Dream. The University of Rochester, my alma mater, is a big pre-med school. But most people go there for pre-med and end up with some other degree entirely. I saw many people ditch the dream during the 4 years I was there, so it was a refreshing change to know someone who was successful in their ambition. She grew up in a small town in upstate New York and wanted to be a doctor for her town. She calmly studied, worked hard, and is now a doctor for her town.
In undergrad, we didn’t have much chance to garden anywhere. But when she went to medical school at the U of R, she started her own garden with her finance Art. Jessica and Art’s Rochester garden took up the whole backyard. I don’t know when she had time to garden as she was right in the middle of medical school at the time. I remember one visit, she gave me a large bag of cherry tomatoes as I left. Jess explained she’d had just about enough of them and wanted someone else to enjoy them. They were amazing. I ate the whole bag in about an hour. As I have quite the sweet tooth, this is saying a lot as I don’t usually eat tomatoes like they are Godiva truffles. But they were Godiva good.
When we visited Jessica’s parent’s home for the wedding, there was a huge field of sunflowers next to the house. My guess is she got the green thumb from home learning. I’ll bet she didn’t complain so much about the weeding, bugs or hot sun. 🙂
Now Jessica and Art are settled with two sons. Jessica cultivates her family and her community just as she has always planned to do. I am sure it is not easy all of the time but she is the sort of person who makes it look easy, enjoyable and bountiful. I’m hoping to update this entry soon with word about her current garden as I am pretty sure there is one.
Since my mid twenties, I have tried gardening on and off. It is always rewarding. I am still not very good at it. However, with every attempt, there is progress. I will share the state of the Govier Family garden in a future post soon. There IS a lot to report about it this year. I am also planning to share a few stories about the gardeners that I know and love in my life.