Tuesday, September 8, 2015

just a bowl of raspberries

Our garden this summer has been tended in fits of care followed by bouts of neglect.  Some crops have gone missing, victims of our ever-present urban groundhog situation here.  And this year, those chubby beasts seem to have figured out the Havahart trap and so I have spotted many and caught...none.  And these hungry creatures who live under the garden shed seem to prefer lettuces and beans and carrots.  And pumpkins.  But despite this, and the neglect during our time away, there is much that is growing out there.  Weeds. 

Yes, lots and lots of weeds.

And grass that needs a mowing.  But also, fruit and vegetables that are a part of each meal here.  

And this year's surprisingly amazing garden success: sunflowers.  

Some are currently 10 feet tall.  And all are covered in birds and bees each day.

Another success, brought on by bouts of not weeding, is that aster and goldenrod took over many of the flower gardens.  

And my goodness the bees are happy about this.

The thing is, I have lost several crops, because we were not here when they needed tending, or when they came ripe, or when they needed a bit of water.  And I feel a bit discouraged about that.  But each time I thought about getting out there and saucing the apples that all fell off the tree during a severe thunderstorm, or better supporting the rogue tomatoes, or trellising the raspberries, or really managing the groundhog situation, I thought about what else I might do.  A kayak trip up the river, painting Elliott's bedroom, a gift from me for his birthday, or an adventure away from home to mountains and lakes and oceans, I decided to do those things instead usually.  And things trucked along as best they could without me.  And in the process, I fed the robust urban wildlife contingent here and have fresh home grown food for every meal and a summer full of memories and time together instead of...peas.  I can live with that trade off.  And we can buy our pumpkins at the farmers market.  That will be fun too.  And all those herbs I may not have time to turn into pesto for the freezer?  When they go by and flower? They will be covered in late summer foraging bees, helping my hives stock up for the winter.  So it's all good really.

This is our first full week back at school.  And just before everyone got home from school I ran out to the berry patch.  I had noticed something red out there as we whisked down and out the driveway on our way to school. Apparently, though I don't remember this, and am fairly certain I did not do it on purpose, I planted a bed of late summer producing raspberry canes out there.  Ever the forgetful gardener am I.  But there they were, survivors despite their leaves having been nibbled by insects and their arching canes left unsupported.

I picked them quickly, my fingers getting stained by the overly ripe ones, allowing those to fall down to the ground, watching the chipmunks scurry around the patch -- clearly surprised to find someone out there competing with them for their berries -- and then darting off into the woods.  Here are some more, I said.  

And I quickly filled a bowl and placed them out in the kitchen for the kids to find when they walked in the back door.

Welcome home.  Our summer made this bowl of raspberries.  This imperfect sweetness I discovered here.  I did not grow it, but it happened while we were together.   I could already see their stained and sticky chins and fingers, the juicy summer smells of them mixed with the away smells from their school days.

Seeing I had a few more minutes before everyone arrived home, I quickly donned my bee veil and headed down to see how they were getting on. Just fine, it seems.  Just fine.  They, too, are clearly benefitting from my wild garden. 

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