dirt under my nails

the first tomato of the season (2008)

the first tomato of the season (2008)

Two summers ago Tommy (then 7) and I began growing vegetables in his grandparents (Jack and Martha) large but rather barren back yard. Prior to this I had tested out the greenness of my thumb growing tomatoes at my parents’ house. Other than placing conical tomato cage upside down (apparently the wide end goes at the top, not the bottom–who knew?) I had fairly decent success simply following in the planting shadow of my then recently deceased father. I put the tomato plants where he had planted them the year before and hoped for the best.

The thing is, once you’ve had a tomato ripe from the vine, the reddish round things they call tomatoes at the grocery store are really never again satisfying. I’m willing to admit it–I’m a tomato snob. I’d rather go without, than suffer through the horrors of the grocery store tomato.

growing tomatoesSo, over the past few years, I’ve continued to cultivate both the garden, but also my enjoyment of it and appreciation of its fruits. Tommy and I have continued to garden. Part of the fun of that is watching his excitement as we watch as somehow, out of the ground, comes something (carrots, onions, tomatoes, corn) out of what started as almost nothing (a seed).

For me, in addition to the enjoyment of eating garden ripened freshly grown vegetables, there is also something so satisfying in being connected to the dirt in this way. So much of my ‘modern’ life is spent on the computer (such as writing this) or in more heady elements of discussion, study, reading or writing–all of which I love, don’t get me wrong. But to feel the dirt in my fingers, to get it under my nails, to cultivate beauty–these things, for me, are spiritual practices in which I am able to take a break from the world of the keyboard and simply be in the midst of creation.

For those who are interested, I’ve recently come upon a few great garden-enthusiast sites:

Denver Urban Gardens (dug!)

Kitchen Gardeners International

Local Harvest

100 Mile Diet

These websites came from an article in the May 19th issue of  The Christian Century Magazine, “Sunshine-powered” which is not yet available online. The article is a great piece on the larger issues surrounding our food economy.

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