I am writing this post from the laundromat. Again. I am beginning to think the laundromat is taking over my life. It’s not just the driving there, or the waiting, or the frequently broken washers, or the other people folding their underwear. My need to go to the laundromat is cutting into my time and ability to do other activities as well. I have two sets of running clothes. I mean, there are other odds and ends, but only two full sets of comfortable and functional running clothes. Normally, that is fine, but when those two sets have to last a week, it’s not enough. I get two runs the two days after I do laundry, then I wait. Any activity that needs special laundry consideration is currently on hold. Right now the one that is bothering me the most is my garden.
For eight years, in Okinawa I tried to have a garden. I didn’t want much, just a couple of potted tomato plants. I love fresh tomatoes. Sadly, I could never make it work. Maybe it was too hot, maybe I just did it wrong. Why doesn’t matter anymore. When we found our house here in Belgium, I was thrilled to see there already was a dedicated garden spot and a greenhouse in my yard. I spent months digging, fertilizing, weeding and planting, just a little every few days so I could have my garden. I was rewarded with fresh tomatoes, artichokes, zucchini, corn, pumpkins, broccoli, and more lettuce than I knew what to do with. And this year, I get to do it again.
Unfortunately, digging in the dirt naturally gets your clothes dirty. Without a working washer, those filthy muddy clothes then sit there, gross, sweaty, and slowly accepting stains, until you can drive it to the laundromat. I’m trying to hold out until my washer is fixed, but the truth is, I’m running out of time to get things moving. We’re getting 70 degree days here now, and soon my hours of garden prep will be done in the heat. Not a plan I wanted to go for. Until I can get moving, here are five things about gardening.
1. Fresh vegetables
This is the main reason I like having my own garden. I love the fresh vegetables all summer. There is a different taste to fresh vegetables. You can think I’m crazy, but it’s true. Fresh vegetable just taste different. They taste better. It’s as though the vegetable knows how hard you worked to get it and is thanking you for it. Not only do you save money and eat healthy, you know exactly what is in your food.
I like being hot. It’s not just that I hate to be cold (which I do); I actually really enjoy being hot. I like feeling warm enough you can feel each individual drop of sweat trail down your body. There is an awareness you have of your body when you are hot. Your skin is warm enough to almost tingle at the slightest touch. The heat of the sun lets you know you are alive. I used to get my sunshine fix at the beach. Without a close by beach, I have to get my fix somewhere else.
3. Time to think
There is something soothing about repetitive work. You continue to repeat the same motions, the same actions, over and over again. You don’t need to think about what you are doing, you just keep moving. This is when I work out plot points, or run dialogue through my head. When a story is sticky, some nice, physical labor works great to unstick it.
Last year my younger daughter worked in the garden a lot with me. She wasn’t in school, so she helped to pick the seeds, plant the seeds, weed, and harvest. She was so proud of being able to help. More than just her pride, was her sense of ownership over her garden. These were HER vegetables. She made these with her own hands. She learned how plants grow by making some plants grow. She saw what needed to be done, helped in all the hard work. She learned a little of how much work goes into putting food on her plate. That is the kind of lesson that teaches gratitude for everything you have.
I’m not talking about the cute pride of accomplishment my daughter had last year, I am talking about full on hipster pride. Oh, you eat processed vegetables? Mine come from a local organic garden. There are never any pesticides or those icky GMOs in MY garden. I mean, this is as close as I get to being cool. I kind of have to go for it.
I suppose pretty soon I’ll have to suck it up and start on the hard work to get my garden ready, instead of using the washer as an excuse. But for now, I’ll just wait on another load.