Monday, July 4, 2011

Garden as Life: Beans

My husband got up early to go golfing today which meant I was up early too.  In the summer we sit on our front deck and drink our coffee watching our neighbors amble by with sniffing dogs or getting a preemptive jog in before hitting the picnics.  The dense humidity that seemed to live in the air was blown out by thunderstorms a day or two ago and the sun is using the trees to create green stained glass art against an azure sky.

Other than watching the world go by, and, of course writing, one of my favorite morning activities is to putter around in my raised bed garden. I  balance my coffee in one hand and root around with the other.  My hair is standing on end and I am still in my jammies but the call of dirt is more than I can resist.  Wandering over, I notice one of the bean vines has entangled itself in the bird netting.  I rescue it and wrap the tendril  around the tomato cage, which is now a makeshift bean pole.  Just like the bird netting is really makeshift cat netting to keep our feline companions from using my vegetable garden as their out door litter box.  I turn my attention back to the beans.  The beans have taught me a lot this year, mostly about patience.

Way back in March when Spring was just a promise, I started three flats of seedlings in a fit of hubris, thinking I could rush Mother Nature.   Within a week little green sprouts started showing, each one a little tiny package of promise.  Then came the beans.  I always think of the monster from "The Little Shop of Horrors"  when the beans come up.  All the other plants send delicate shoots up while the beans erupt from the ground, at first hunched over and then slowly straightening, the giants of the flat.  At first the beans were hardy, I could practically hear them call "Feed Me!"

When the time finally came in May to transfer the seedlings to the outdoors, they were a rag tag bunch.  The cats had taken a liking to the herb sprouts in desperation for something green and even my robust beans seemed anemic.  I planted the seedlings but also planted seeds in with them.  The seedlings died but the seeds sprouted and grew and now are producing beans at about the same time the deceased seedlings would have.  I can hear them whisper to me, "There is no rushing us."  So next year, I won't fuss with flats, I'll just plant the seeds directly in the garden and let nature take it's course.  Of course, I did buy a garden cover so I will be able to start things a little earlier than Mother's Day, but not by much.

I look at the first handful of beans that I am holding in my hand and a lot of thoughts flow through my mind about the miracle of nature, how tenacious life is, but mostly about time and patience.  How there is no rushing the flow of time, there are no short cuts, and that every moment must be lived through.  How the seed is planted but no matter how badly you want beans on your plate, the plant must go through it's stages, sprouting, growing, flowering, and finally beans.  There is no going directly from seed to bean, from child to adult, from person sitting in a writing class to author. All the steps must be patiently followed in order or there will be no beans, no adult, no author.  Each moment must be lived to the fullest, each storm weathered, the time patiently logged and added up until finally, you have beans.

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