Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The snow has gone and any further snow we get this season would be a short-lived joke of nature, so even though I live in New England, I think it’s safe to say that spring is here. When I open the door in the early morning, the air is filled with the sound of ecstatic birds. The handful of daffodil bulbs I planted last fall are in bloom and the trees are leafing out.

It all makes me miss the asparagus bed I started almost three years ago at the last place we lived. I’d always wanted the luxury of being able to step out into my own backyard and harvest asparagus minutes before supper. Asparagus takes time to establish itself; one is supposed to wait two or three years before harvesting it ad lib. This spring would have been our first year of asparagus gluttony.

But we left that house last summer, leaving behind the asparagus, a raised-bed vegetable garden, a lilac bush, a couple of pretty young trees we planted, and numerous other growing things. It was the first time in years that I’d felt like literally “putting down roots,” so leaving those growing things was a little sad. I miss them especially now that spring has returned. I hope they are being well cared for and enjoyed.

I’ve moved five times in the past nine years, after living in one place for twelve years prior to the beginning of this new, nomadic existence. Considering the wear and tear on body and soul all this moving has wrought, I’d say I’ve moved too many times, except for the fact that there was good reason for each of the moves.

Each uprooting requires sorting through belongings, at least a little; thinning out the mass of accumulated stuff prior to packing it. I had a friend once who swore he'd never own more stuff than he could transport in his car. At the time, he drove a Volkswagen Beetle and was still in his twenties; I’d love to know how long he managed to stick to his vow.

Last fall I considered starting another vegetable garden, or at least an asparagus bed, but didn’t. And now I’m not sure whether I will or not. Instead, we bought a share in The Food Bank Farm. It’s a Community Supported Agriculture farm, whose primary mission is to provide fresh, organic produce to area food banks (the farm gives away half its annual harvest; about 200,000 pounds a year). This seems like a good way to put locally-grown food on our table and do a little something to help people who are nowhere near as fortunate as we are.

We already feel a sense of ownership in the farm, having transported the hundred or so bags of leaves our maple trees produced last fall to a collection spot at the end of one of the farm's fields. We, and clearly many other leaf-rakers, built a mountain of leaves there, over twenty feet high and covering about half an acre, thus contributing to the farm's mulch and compost supply. I remember emptying bag after bag of leaves there last November, with flocks of geese heading south over our heads, and feeling that our leaves were a kind of harvest. Come the next summer, we would effectively be eating them.

So instead of planting spinach and peas in a backyard garden these days, we’re eagerly awaiting word from the farm that the first crops of the season (which will be a variety of salad greens) are ready to be picked. And instead of digging up part of our lawn for a vegetable garden—the former owner of our property used a service that kept the lawn looking like a first-class golf course, and I can assure you those days are over—we've been digging a pit and constructing a large sandbox for the youngest of our grandkids to play in.

It seems there are many ways to put down roots.


Beth said...

Your moving stories and garden memories of course resonated with me. I find the availability of wonderful fresh produce helps a lot to keep me from missing my own garden, though I've considered signing up for a community garden plot - the wait lists are several years long. The food cooperative is a good idea - make sure you let us know how it works out!

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