Playdates: The Raised Bed

We shovel dirt all day until our arms are rubber and our backs ache. Our next-door neighbor has a pile of fill dirt that he wants to get rid of.
Use as much of it as you want, he said.
So we load the old wheelbarrow up time and time again, digging into that clay, wet and heavy from the spring rains. It is hard work.
But I can’t stop grinning.
I’m getting my hands dirty and I feel my muscles strain against their skin confines. March is still roaring like a lion–it’s cool outside but the sun shines with promise. My husband and I are filling the raised bed my friend Mike made for me (thanks, Mike!) and it’s the best birthday present ever.

spring walk 046
It feels like coming home.
When I was a little girl, my family kept a large garden. My grandfather was a farmer, so my dad knew about these things. But his long days at the plant left the maintenance and harvest up to his wife and four children. Mom put us to work, hauling milk jugs of water up the hill by the chicken coop where neat rows of crops waited. We suffered in the sun on long summer days to do the weeding and hoeing. We four would argue about who would work in the corn—the tall stalks offered much appreciated shade.
I know the taste of a tomato fresh picked off the vine and smell of earth on newly dug potatoes. I’m familiar with the quiet plssssh of the stringing of green beans and the firm snap of them broken in two. Home-brined pickles and stewed tomatoes lined the shelves of our cellar. We were rich, rich in produce. Only I didn’t know it then.
I’m familiar with these things. Only they are easy to forget when the jars that line my pantry are all labeled with name brands and store logos. It’s easy to forget the joy of digging fingers in dirt with the convenience of opening a can.
And now I have this small plot. I’ve thought about it all winter. Ever since this conversation with Jeffrey, ever since our last book club at the High Calling. The reading of this book made me long to do better, to feed my family good things.
So we move dirt all morning and take a break in the afternoon. We wait for my father-in-law, the Master Gardener, and he comes—pulling his little trailer loaded with bags of rich soil from the garden center. We pour them on, mix them in. I break up clods of rich, fragrant soil with my hands.
I am giddy.
My father-in-law takes stock. He goes back to the greenhouse and returns again with peat moss, a special nutrient rich soil, and a small brown bag. We mix the peat moss and the soil. I stir and churn and I feel myself grow in the dark layers. When we are done, we stand and look.
I’m grinning ear to ear.
It sure is pretty, he says.
It’s beautiful, I whisper.
He pulls out the brown bag and opens the top. I peer inside and see these beautiful pearls nestled inside. 
These are green onions, he says. He makes a small furrow in the soil and pokes the bulb root down inside. He makes a small row and then hands the rest to me. I breath in their musty scent. He pulls a baggy from his pocket. Lettuce seeds. I’m nearly jumping for joy. And there is a packet of carrot seeds too.

He shows me how to sow, moves soil with his hands.
The more careful you plant, he says, the less pruning you will have to do later.
He has a tiny seed on the tip of his finger. He pokes it into a small hole in the soil.
The sun is going down and it’s getting close to dinner time. He leaves us and Jeff fires up the grill. But I am not done. I plant a row and half of the onion pearls, make a bed for the lettuce seeds, and poke carrot seeds one at time into tiny holes on the surface of the soil.
The more careful you plant, the less pruning you will have to do later.

His words echo in my head and I am so very careful. It seems impossible to think that anything can grow from a seed so small. It is so tempting to dump the whole of the crisp envelop into the ready soil. But I know better. I know each tiny shell holds something wonderful inside. I sing as I work, talk to God about these little bits of wonder. He tells me the magic formula of water and soil and sunshine and love.
Happy birthday, God says. And he knows the tender bruising I’ve felt because of it all. I’m so glad you were born.

How about you? How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. And come tell us about it.

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  1. says

    You give the digging and planting such immediacy. What a pleasure to read.

    “The more careful you plant, the less pruning you have to do later.” A great quote. It applies to so much.

    I look forward to seeing pictures of all those seeds revealing their work underground.

  2. says

    “The more careful you plant, he says, the less pruning you will have to do later.” There’s some meaty words there….they’re going to take some pondering today.
    “in quietness and trust will be your strength”~~~~don’t be too hard on yourself. God sees our hearts, He knows our human frailties. My goal is to meditate on His Words throughout my day….no matter what I am doing to stop, breath out the chaos, breath in His Spirit and open my self to the quietness and trust that comes from Him. Laura I hope you have a grand week! Blessings of His best…in gentle whispers.

  3. says

    OH I can hardly wait to play in my dirt next weekend. I will be cleaning out the pots for the flowers. Yea! Patio gardening I do. What a wonderful playdate you had with the seeds. I havent planted with seeds in years. I think Im missing out. Happy Birthday to you as well. What a wonderful gift you have recieved one that will conitnue to provide and give.

  4. says

    That wonderful quote about planting/pruning seems to be applying to my spring project–painting the inside of my house.
    Right now it doesn’t feel like playing, but it gives me immense satisfaction.

  5. says

    Oh Laura, I love this. It makes me think of my Grandfather – the one with the green thumb. You make me long to have a garden. We shall see…

  6. says

    This post made me think of my dad and the little garden he planted in our back yard. I’ve never been much of a gardener, but every time I stick a seed or a plant in the ground, I think of him. So cool that this was such a family project. Joining so many others who are glad you were born!

  7. says

    I love gardening, too, because of the promise of the tiny seeds. It’s always a joyous miracle when the shoots poke through the soil.

    Your writing…your spirit…they always bless me. Thank you!

    Happy Birthday!

  8. says

    What a ‘mental picture’ you have painted. Such a lovely read, filled with inspiration and filling me with anticipation as I begin my own small little patch of heaven on earth. Thank you for sharing!

  9. says

    It’s always a miracle isn’t it Laura? Something so tiny, so sharp, so hidden with all that life inside.

    Always amazing. Thank you, you are full of His beauty, even in the hard places.

    Claire x

  10. says

    Can I say it, I have raised bed envy. 😉 There I did say it. It looks beautiful! Just like your lovely heart – rich, cultivated, and multiplying.

  11. says

    I would have a very similar joy…it is most definitely a dream to have at least a small garden some day…I grew up on a (dairy) farm with a huge garden with everything and then my mom kept another huge one when we left there and still planted tomatoes and cucumbers when they moved to town and had little space…I don’t know when, but I live vicariously through this sweet place born–I hope you keep us updated on the progress:-)

  12. says

    I think this is my favorite of all your playdates so far, Laura. Maybe because I am giddy with the anticipation of planting. I just said to Noah a minute ago, “I think if the weather is warm enough this weekend we ought to start cleaning out the garden.” He agreed. We can’t wait to get our hands in that dirt!

    For the first time we joined an ag. co-op this year — we’ll pick up a bunch of organic veggies once a week from May till October — I am so excited about this!

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