chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

my father’s garden…

dreaming of future gardensMy father, who had many things to do once he retired, decided in his late 70s that he would, for the first time, grow a vegetable garden. Though he had spent several happy years of his childhood living on a farm, and though he accepted without complaint my mother’s requests for him to dig or prune or lift or repair, he had never shown much interest or initiative when it came to the garden.

But he had become a volunteer with TreePeople, an L.A.-based organization committed to the one-tree-at-a-time greening of the city (and re-greening of burned hillsides), and he reported with wonder his experiences planting trees in blighted neighborhoods and handling sequoia seedlings and watching them grow. If this scrappy non-profit could plant a million trees, surely he could grow a little lettuce.

So, he surveyed his options and selected a square of dirt bounded by a jacaranda tree, the edge of the patio, a hibiscus bush and the railroad ties that held the hillside in place. He worked the soil with the engineer’s diligence he applied to everything he did, and dropped seeds into neatly marked rows. His vegetable garden, he said with some pride, was 1/680th of an acre.

The jacaranda tree blocked the worst of the burning sun, first feathering its delicate shade over the little garden, then coating it with a thick layer of sticky lavender flowers. Aphids colonized the beans. The squirrels and bluejays and snails worked their way through the rows. Even a stray cat took delight in the well-turned soil.

My father witnessed all this with stoic equanimity, and eventually, under his watchful eye, the garden managed to eke out a few small bunches of lettuce and some deformed green beans. But oh, the carrots. The carrots made it all worthwhile, comical to look at but crisp and absolutely sweet as sugar. He savored and shared and beamed over those carrots.

But one season of vegetable gardening was enough, and after that he seemed quite content to return to bigger things. Like sequoias.
photo: my father’s idea of gardening, circa 1957, some three decades before this story

7 responses to “my father’s garden…

  1. ccrooksphoto June 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Lovely memoir. Especially like the photo of your father “gardening.”

  2. Steve Eisinger June 19, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Fantastic story. I remember visiting your dad at his Tree People “office” more than once!

  3. cupcakemurphy June 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    The Jacarandas are in full bloom right now. I’ll tip my hat to them in your dad’s honor.

  4. jik June 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks! What a color!

  5. Ann DeCollibus June 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Awesome! Judy!

  6. Kimby June 25, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Excellent writing. Loved your word pictures.

  7. jik June 25, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Thank you, Kim!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.