I remember the very first garden that Steven and I ever planted. The memory of it is one of my favorites. We lived in a neighborhood, but our yard was bigger than average…or maybe it was just that the house we were renting was smaller than average. Either way, we had a lot of yard area.
At this time in our lives, we had already decided that what we wanted was a simple life, lived out on land that was outside city limits, where our future kids could one day run and play all day long, where we could raise animals, both for fun and for food, and where we could try our hand at being as ‘self-sustaining’ as we’d ever want to be. A place where we could have a bonfire any time we wanted, where we could have trees and woods and a pond, and the kind of privacy you can only get when your driveway is made out of chert. The ‘country life,’ I guess you’d call it.
By this time, we had already bought the plot of land that would one day be our home, but we couldn’t afford to move out onto it just yet. So, while we worked toward that, we were temporarily living in what we called “the little cube house,” because it was literally built like a cube. A very small cube.
So one weekend in the early spring, Steven took to planting a garden for us. It was an exciting and new undertaking. Neither one of us had ever planted a garden, and had absolutely no garden tools or machinery to use. But that didn’t phase Steven; mostly because he didn’t realize how much easier it would’ve been if he did have those things. So using nothing more than a shovel, a hoe, and a rake, Steven worked himself ragged. And worked. And worked. Until finally, several hours—and blisters—later, he had prepared for us a perfect, fresh patch of rich, dark soil.
I remember that I was inside the house with our then 2 year old son when Steven came inside, covered in dirt and sweat. But he had the biggest smile on his face. Even his eyes seemed to be lit up. He told me to come outside with him. He brought me to the garden area and I looked over it with excitement at all the hope of home-grown….anything! I didn’t even care what we grew, just that we grew! But that wasn’t why Steven had called me out there.
“Come here,” he said, and he walked into the middle of the garden.
I followed him, and was a little surprised when he dropped down on his knees.
“Get down here,” he said.
Smiling, I got down on my knees with him. He scooped up some of the dirt in both of his hands and brought it to his face and smelled it. “Smell this!” he said, with amazement in his voice.
I was a little confused, but I did what he did, and I scooped up the fresh dirt, held it close to my nose, inhaled and took in the smell. It was amazing! And believe it or not, it was even emotional! I don’t know how to describe it, but it was so neat. It was just a new experience for us. Raised in the city, never having given much thought to where our food came from, never having paid attention to the rains or the droughts, the seasons or the frosts…here we were, really taking it all in for the first time. The feel of it, the smell of it, and the excitement that the hope of future home-grown food gave…all of it, combined. It was just…great.
We sat there in the middle of the dirt, admiring all of Steven’s hard work. He told me about what all he had done, and we dreamed up what all we would do with it. We talked about how we’d never done anything like this, and how right it felt to be doing it now. And then one thing led to another, and we even wrestled around in the dirt for a while, like a couple of kids.
We planted that garden with a handful of plants, but we’d be gone from that house before anything ever came of it. In fact, just before we moved out, we found a single strawberry that had ripened on one of our strawberry plants. You’d have thought we had found a pot of gold. We each got a single bite of it. And it was, without a doubt, the best tasting strawberry either one of us had ever had. We loved it! And it was all the motivation we needed to plant our next garden the following year on the land where we moved to.
I love looking back and remembering stories like these. The times where we were on our way to becoming the people we are today, even though we had no idea that’s what was happening. Oh the changes that 10 years can bring! And I’m thankful to the Lord for all of them!!