Hello again. I'm here, tending soil and finding quiet. And failing at the latter a lot more than I'd like you to know. But here I am. 


After two growing (a term used loosely in light of the results) seasons of squash vines given over to boring (tunneling, not dull) grubs and single eggplants and a handful of okra...paltry results for the work of tilling and weeding and waiting...we dug out one of our four garden plots. It's got to be the soil, so overused and tired. We needed to start all over. 

By "we" I mean my husband. Digging out the plot became such hard prisoner type work that he determined only one plot per year could be excavated. Southern red clay petrifies, roots hold fast. He dumped a pickup truck bed worth of rich, bought soil in its place. Loose and loamy. 

And then I planted, the same as ever. Nothing is as faith-filling as planting a garden. Seed to sprout? To full fruiting plant all the way to our plates? Yes and yes and yes. Amen. It will happen, I blindly tend every Spring, not a doubt in my mind even after a few summers of drout and duds. Hands in the soil and sun on my neck, the small and still voice is Present, audible and amiable.  

Oh, but this year! That soil we traded out? The plot of tomoatoes and squash erupt with such enthusiasm that I confessed to my friend Emily the other day that I'm half afraid of it. The way it climbs and clings and produces is so unabashedly vigorous I'm baffled.  

In the compost mix must've been some cast-out squash of some sort, vines growing beyond borders, greedy for space and sun, spitting and squeezing out ovals of fruit nobody can identify. It's not a melon, wrong stem for that, though I cut one open and the fresh smell of honeydew had me convinced except the seeds are wrong. Maybe a gourd? A spaghetti squash? Whatever it is, we are good at growing it...there's at least 24 of the things expanding before our very eyes.  

I didn't come here to talk to you about gardening really, though this is typical of the South this time of year. You talk about soil, you walk up to check on things, you report on pests and fertilizers. Proud and perplexed, at least that's us.  How's your garden, we ask. Y'all getting any tomatoes yet? 

I came here I guess because with this season comes the tug of words. Not for an assignment but just for the sake of the thing itself. Not unlike planting something and just walking away. Not expecting much in return save the feeling of dirt underneath your hands and the sun on your neck. The feeling of being once again a part of something. Bigger and smaller all at the same time. Remembering the cycles of the moon as we tilt and spin on a sphere of rock and water. Held and tended.  

For some of my friends this year has been hard and root bound. The world is all impermeable edges and there doesn't seem to be much color. Sweetness and growth seem impossible and improbable, but yet even now they feel tendrils pushing up. Out of our miniscule microcosms...damn if we don't keep growing even when it's dark.  

I can't believe it really, it scares me how green and wild and ALIVE things can be. Out of my hands, hidden and rooted, a sprout bows and bends and unseen--its two hands reach for the sun.  


AuthorBeth Ables