Growing Season

By Verna Kale

March 7, 2016

Growing Season
“Do you remember anything from before you were born?” I ask.

We have been pulling weeds: large and small handfuls of crabgrass and clover pile in a five-gallon bucket; too many bean plants clump together in one spot; the crooked row zigzags inefficiently toward the fence; empty spaces recall the pink Stride Rites that strode right across the row in the spring.

“I was all curled up, like a snail.” I am astonished at how right she is. Weekly email newsletters had taken me through the stands of a virtual farmer’s market: your baby is the size of a pea, a pear, a rutabaga. But her memory is more apt: she was a snail.

In the two-years-ago garden she sat in the tilled soil and pulled an earthworm taut between two hands and touched it with her tongue. Though she has since asserted her antipathy for “bugs,” she doesn’t mind snails, jauntily accessorized worms who keep their sliminess rolled up inside. She finds a snail among the beans and we re-home it in the boxwoods.

In late summer she blows the seedheads off the dandelions, but she doesn’t make wishes. She covets nothing apart from the immediate desire, which fulfills itself, to send the seeds aloft. The beans swell on yellow leafless stalks, the thick husks full of an undelicious clear jelly. I collect them to keep the white seeds for next year’s garden. Curled up inside are the plants that will unfurl in Spring along straight rows.
Photo provided by Ruth Hartnup via Flickr's Creative Commons license
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