All little girls brag about their fathers, but mine really does have the best garden . Everybody says so.
He draws up a new plan every year on graph paper on the same old clipboard. He keeps all the plans in reverse order on it. There’s over 40 years of plans on that thing, with no two alike.
He gets the same neighbor to plow the garden plot with his tractor every spring. Daddy picks the date carefully. He has all his plants ready to be put in as soon as the ground is broken. He travels to the best sources to get his seedlings and seeds. He buys extra plants to share with other gardeners. I have too many of these, he says. Do you need some?
From the moment those little plants are carefully placed in the ground, they are tended numerous times each day. The tomatoes are suckered, the beans are tied up, the okra is thinned, the soaker-hose is turned on and off, on and off , like the timed feedings of infants.
People from all around come to help with the garden. They know there will be baskets of produce delivered to their doors later in the season. Daddy has to supervise the help. Things must be done a certain way, you see.
Mama and daddy even take produce to church and pass it out after the service from their trunk. Once when they were taking vegetables to their mountain friends, daddy shared some tomatoes with a person in the parking lot. A line formed behind the truck. They thought he was selling those perfect tomatoes. He gave some out to the hungry strangers.
Daddy complained this morning that the squirrels were chewing on the picnic table. This was the “Lunch Bunch” table, where all the neighborhood men gathered each Wednesday in July for tomato sandwiches. Most of these men are in the ground now, but my daddy is still in his garden. That table sits empty , except for the squirrels. I told him that they were just gnawing on the greasy, salty drippings from all those tomato sandwiches. Who can blame them?
Not just the squirrels are busy out back. Mama and daddy buzz around that plot parenting those plants like they are newborn babies. Those things don’t have any choice but to stand up, grow strong and produce. With all that love, how can you not? Right sister?