Preparing for the move to Sequim, Washington the fall of 2014, I sold my power equipment and all but a few tools. Watching my rototiller driven away was especially sad because I had planted a vegetable garden that first summer we lived in rural northern Illinois and every summer thereafter. The Holy Spirit taught me a lot while gardening, even while simply standing there watching, waiting and marveling at my little “patch of miracles”.
It’s a wonder that I ever planted a garden in the first place; what with the memory of trying to pull weeds in mom’s garden during the heat of summer, when the ground had set up like concrete. No amount of chipping away with a trowel or weed fork would get the root like mom wanted. “Aw Mom! I’m a guitar player, not a farmer! Can’t you see I have delicate hands?!?” Forty-five years later, Dad tells me weeding was one of the ways mom punished me for mouthing off. “How’d she punish you, Dad?” I asked. “Spaghetti”, he replied. “Mom cooked and I washed the dishes. When she was mad, she dirtied every dish in the house.” Yup, that sounds like my mom. She was the best!
The first house Karen and I bought together was on a “L” shaped double lot. Behind the neighbor’s garage, was our garden area, neglected by the former owner and upon which the neighbors had taken to discarding yard waste, rocks and unused concrete. When I discovered a new pile of brush one afternoon, I figured to put up a NO DUMPING sign, but that seemed downright unneighborly to me, especially being the new guy in town and hopeful of making friends of the neighbors. While wondering what to do, the Spirit whispered “plant a garden”. So I borrowed a truck and cleaned up the mess.
I was hooked on gardening the moment I tasted the Jubilee sweet corn I planted that first summer. While eating, we were overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and both of us began to weep with joy. “What’s this all about” I asked my wife between sobs. The Spirit answered with a message of “first fruits” and that never again would we experience the heartache that had brought us to His place of blessing.
We’ve wanted to put in a garden at our new home, but haven’t had time what with caring for my elderly father, making repairs, consolidating households and remodeling. All we had time for was a few tomato plants in containers and some kohlrabi for Dad. A garden, if ever we got around to planting one, would be a major undertaking, since when this property was cleared for building, the top soil was removed. By all appearances what remains is good only for growing moss and weeds.
Last summer I began collecting the tools I’d need to establish a garden next summer: a roto-tiller, a ‘48 Gibson model SD garden tractor with plow, disc and harrow, and a broadcast spreader and small boom sprayer to tow behind the riding mower. I had every intention of continuing to garden in Sequim, the way I learned to garden in rural northern Illinois; that is to till, sift rocks, plant, cultivate, weed, collect the rain, water, fertilize, spray for pests, haul slash to the landfill, etc. In other words, to grow food the way I first learned from my mom and later my brothers-in-law and nephews all of whom are farmers or in agri-business.
But God has another plan, and He went to jaw dropping lengths to make sure I got the message.