I grew up in the Sierra-Nevada mountains, with snow deep and trees thick to blanket the ground.
And I lived part of my life in the Nevada desert , with crumbly granite rock and prickly scrub bushes on the landscape.
The decade in the Wyoming mountains was amazing. Then I moved to the badlands of desert-plains.
And now, finally, I’m in a Denver suburb with curbs and sidewalk, sprinkler tat-tat-tatting in the evening hours.
Never have I lived on, or near a farm. Farms have been strictly the stuff of books or movies, or a place to drive by and you make comments about the neat rows or fancy tractors. Call me strange, but they are romantic in a way, even as I push my cart down the fruit aisle.
I read writers like Ann Voskamp and Jennifer Dukes Lee who write about life on the farm and I’m completely enthralled by the concept of the miracle of soil, sun and seed. And LL Barkat’s God in the Yard lovingly strokes the idea of things that grow.
Adam worked the soil. As did Abel. and a steady line of mankind since. My grandfather planted strawberries and apples, pumpkins and squash, onions and peas. My mother loved flowers and tomatoes. My sister grows things and my brother too.
Why not me?
I bought a bulk variety of 25 different seed packs from Seeds of Change. The fronts of the packages were full of pictorial promise — perfect vegetables and flowers bursting with color. The instructions on the back were replete with recommended soil temperatures, thinning techniques and watering needs. This is harder than it looks.
(Rabbit trail: One of the seed packets in the bunch was for “Iranian tobacco. ” My family still laughs at the thought of me growing the stuff. Why not? The package said it grows “up to four feet with broad leaves and red flowers.” Frankly, it sounds decorative and even a little daring. I’ll grow the plants right next to the fence, so the bored and barking dog next door can “enjoy the fruits.“ Maybe, just for fun , I can be called an evil tobacco farmer by some lunatic fringe. I don’t know what I’ll do with the crop. Maybe I can get a subsidy not to grow it?)
I bought a shovel, some dirt and a plastic flat with little containers of dirt. And four months ago, under the sunny window in the kitchen, right next to the coffee maker, I dropped three seeds into each starter pod. I watered and prayed — like Cain, my grandfather and every generations in between did.
And soon enough, one by one, they popped through the soil, bursting into the morning light streaming through the window. Chives, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and a host of flowers are certainly just a few weeks away.
After Mother’s Day, I moved most of the seedlings to the soil outside, already tilled and fertilized, moist from two days of rain, patiently waiting to receive. It’s like putting your child on a school bus for the first time.
The questions are rampant: Will they make it through the night? Will a bird pull their tender shoot out of the ground? Is the soil right? Will it be too cold? Am I a really a man for enjoying all this?
And through this process, I’m learning about life again. Winter taught me a few things. It taught me that there is a spring, and a summer. And there will be a time of harvest as I find love and restoration, through the soil, sun and seed.
And once again, I pray. “Give me the faith of a farmer