Life lessons abound in the garden. Like air and water, we need one another, we need relationships.
They breathe life into our existence, add fragrance to our world, and anchor us during stormy weather. But relationships aren’t easy. They can be difficult to start, no matter how hard you try, like the ever-trying onion seeds. You can follow directions, tend to them everyday, and still they don’t form – no sprouts, no fruit, no nothing. You walk away with a shrug, perplexed by what went wrong, or didn’t go right.
Life goes on, you reassure yourself. No big deal.
Sometimes, this attitude is the right one, because those relationships that do form easily can yield to minor changes in conditions. Take peppers, for example. If you don’t maintain constant moisture and perfect temperature, these sweets can prove difficult to grow, to nurture to fruition. Broccoli, too. They require a delicate balance between water and sunlight, proper nutrients, etc. Yet once you get them going, they hold hands and provide–well.
You hope, anyway. Once again, as in the garden so goes life; there’s no telling. Another life lesson.
Then there are the relationships that seem to grow themselves. Like watermelon. You do nothing but toss the seed into the wind whereby it falls, implants itself in the sandy ground, then takes off running–literally! The vines end up everywhere and into everything. Even when you neglect it, the thing comes back, year after year. (I’ve heard some mother-in-laws are like this, though I’m fortunate – mine is wonderful – the “sweet” part of watermelon.)
Could be the climate. I live in a place where the conditions are naturally conducive for this plant to thrive, with little or no effort on my part. Trust me – I know how to forget a plant needs attention – even under the best of intentions. Hmph. If only all of my plants were so easy.
Are you kidding? If only all of my relationships were so easy. Think of the friends I could have, the adventures we could set forth… Why, every day would be a picnic! We’d bask in the sun, traipse after rainbows, or laze beneath the clouds. We’d do nothing but talk, chat about this and that, them and us… It would be grand–storybook perfection!
But they’re not. Some relationships take a lot of work. So much so, you begin to wonder if they’re worth the effort. I mean, if it’s this difficult, is it a sign I should be cultivating elsewhere?
It might be. But it might not be. Let me tell you, if I quit every vegetable that proved a challenge in my garden, I’d be spitting watermelon seeds while I chopped potatoes, wistfully dreaming of that bright red tomato sauce I could make, flavored with rich aromatic garlic and basil, sweetened by onion and the secret ingredient: carrot. Oh, how my Italian husband would lavish me with praise, smother me with kisses of appreciation! The kids could eat spaghetti three nights a week and we’d all be happy as pie. No one would look at me with a long face and mutter, “Potatoes?” Whereby the frown would deepen. “Again?”
Sure you can slice them a hundred ways to Sunday, and prepare them with all kinds of fanfare and delectable mixers, but they’re still potatoes. And while I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially Mother Nature’s, I do believe variety is the spice of life. From sights and tastes to friends and family, variety is what keeps it all interesting. And keeps me cooking! Nothing I like better than to create a new dish, try out a friend’s recipe, or simply savor an old favorite. They’re all good.
But one has to be open and receptive to the idea. You must be willing to make an effort. You want good relationships in your life? It takes planning and preparation. Desire. A simple seed of want. Then, warmed by bright smiles and showered with love, you can enjoy a nourishing companionship with just about anyone in this garden of life. Another life lesson.