• 48°

A day in the garden

I carefully dropped the seeds into the ground, spacing them 12-18 inches apart, per directions.

“Now, Dr. David, I’m not meticulous like you are. I know you want them in one inch of dirt. But, I’m not going to get down on the ground and cover the dirt over them with my hands. I just use my foot for that, like this,” Martha, said, demonstrating how she gently covered the seeds in the soil.

“That’s fine, Momma Martha, whatever you say.”

I half teasingly and half affectionately called my friend, “Momma,” for she is something like a “mom,” to me.

Martha has gardened most of her life and has forgotten more about gardening than I’ll ever know. She has a God-given talent for making plants grow.

So, I wasn’t about to give her instructions about how to garden; had I any sense at all, I would watch what she did and do likewise.

And besides, it wasn’t my garden anyway.

Glen, Martha’s husband, had sensed my dilemma about a garden when, weeks before, he had asked that question he and several of my gardening friends ask each year, sometime in early May: “Got your garden ready?”

I had just been released from physical therapy, having had rotator cuff surgery a few months before and was uncertain about the physical demands a garden might have on my shoulder. But more than that were the challenges of work and its demands on time.

When Glen asked that question, I visualized my garden, and it suddenly appeared more stress inducing than stress relieving.

“Maybe I’ll wait another year; I don’t know…we’ll see,” I said, with an obvious sound of hesitation in my voice, for I wasn’t ready to commit to the garden but didn’t want to give up on it entirely, either.

The next time I saw Glen, I could tell by his almost mischievous smile that he had an idea.

“Tell you what,” he said, grinning from ear to ear, “you just come out when you have time, and you can help me with my garden and enjoy the produce. Just come when you feel like it. And I’ve got you a whole row reserved for…what’s that plant you like to grow out there in Oklahoma?”

“Okra,” I said.

My wife, Lori, and I love okra, like they raise back in in Oklahoma, where we grew up, and Lori knows just how to fry it, so that I always want “just a little more.”

“And when you come,” Glen added, “bring Eli; he can ride the four-wheeler with you after you work in the garden.”

“A splendid idea,” I readily agreed, already anticipating how excited my grandson, Eli, would be at the mention of riding the four-wheeler.

“What a friend,” I thought, as Glen walked away.

Now, I won’t have my own garden this year; but, I have something even better: a day, one day a week, if I want it, not only to get in the dirt, but to spend time with my grandson and my friends.

And so, having put those seeds about one inch deep, and 18 inches apart, more or less, there we were, Eli, and me, in the four-wheeler, roaring wide-open, over the hills, through the pasture, across the lawn, up and down the driveway.

“PopPop, this is too much fun,” Eli giggled uncontrollably, as he steered the four-wheeler in my lap, trying to reach the gas petal at the same time.

“Yes, it is, son, yes, it is.”

Contact David Whitlock, Ph.D., at drdavid@davidwhitlock.org. or visit his website, davidwhitlock.org.