Did I say that organization was beautiful earlier this season? Well you can forget all that. It’s August. It’s time for entropy. It’s time for every plant to explode with biological urges to reproduce, and to fruit and flower like mad before the days get short and the temperature drops. It’s time for erect stems to collapse and throw their seed heads abroad towards any nubile little patch of dirt within reach. It’s time for gangs of yarrow and coreopsis to bully their taller, statelier companions. It’s time for tomatoes, dammit, and you can NEVER have enough tomatoes.It’s time for cucumbers to climb the akashiso, the asparagus, and the chicken wire around the lettuce; to get in the lawn, grow through the fence out onto the sidewalk, and start fruiting out in public for all the world to see like a harlot. God only knows what the neighbors are saying.Spring is supposed to be the season for fertility rites, but the mood in the garden is racy and careless right now. Racy like a twenty-nine year old with no kids, like a new divorcee, like a man in a mid-life crisis, or all of them at the bar together as two a.m. approaches: messy, sloppy, and embarrassing.
As the humble steward of this awkward orgy, I reap the benefits of the harvest, try not to mow the cucumbers by accident, cower before the eight-foot tall tomato while I gingerly pluck her fruit, and watch my winter “bird-feeders” develop in the seed heads of coneflowers, liatris, and lavender. Bugs are everywhere, skippers especially spin through the air in threes, little ménage-a-trois tornadoes. Chaos is reined in just enough by vertical supports, and by the small bit of lawn I allow framing garden beds.
It’s a tight squeeze, but I can actually walk in the vegetable bed to harvest and weed. This is my first year of veggie gardening that this has been possible! About fifty percent of our diet at my house this year has been homegrown. I won’t pretend it hasn’t been hard work; honestly, it has been like having a second part time job in addition to my full time job. It involves physical labor, daily attention to details and changes in the garden, and careful planning to make use of the harvest when the harvest is ready. But work one loves creates energy instead of using up energy. Working in the garden and processing the food gives me energy instead of draining it away.
The freezer is getting full, the beds are lush, and ripe tomatoes have been picked for this week. Today I’ll take a moment (or maybe a day) to bask in the sun surrounded by this glorious chaos, the eye in the center of a fragrant, fertile storm, like a skipper on a cucumber leaf.