Dad’s garden was a thing to behold.
I would say it was an act of love, but that wouldn’t do justice to the work he put into it. Sure, it came from a deep love for his family and blessed others in our community. But Dad’s garden was more. It was a work of beauty. It encapsulated the lesson he taught, “If you’re going to do something, do it well.”
Dad’s garden was bigger than most other backyard gardens.
After the last fall potatoes were harvested and strewn on the rough-hewn floor of his shed, he began layering the leaves raked from the yard atop the now barren rows. Kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and newspaper he shredded were added throughout the winter. He combined the manure collected from his pedigree rabbits’ pens into the concoction that would become black gold in the garden.
Before Punxsutawney Phil even thought about peeping from his burrow, Dad consulted the Farmer’s Almanac and with a calendar at the kitchen table, he plotted out his spring planting schedule.
The pull of the cord that cranked his gas-powered, red Troy Bilt tiller signaled the start of gardening much like the dropping of a green flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Back and forth, he chopped up the earth until the course mixture became fine earth ready to welcome his corn, beans, lettuce and radish seeds.
Dad used a hand plow to furrow his garden. His earlier work prepping the soil insured that the plow broke the earth into rows with ease. Opening a seed packet and using his hand, he placed each seed to rest. Resolve guided his touch and gave the seed a place to best grow roots and break from the ground in two to three weeks.
Using the backside of his garden rake, Dad covered the seeds – allowing only the perfect amount of dirt to shield each one.
As much effort as he put into getting the seeds into the earth, the hardest part came with waiting for the plants to emerge from the ground. Questions rose about too much rain or seeds that were no good as the days added up. Only when the perfectly straight rows had full rows of green growth did Dad tilt his cap back and wipe his brow.
Fresh vegetables were not the only harvest Dad provided for his family.
His children learned that we reap what we sow by his careful example. He showed the value of hard work and diligent planning in every area of life. Yes, Dad planted many lessons that over the years have taken root and helped me to be a better son, husband and father.
I’ve learned it takes lots of patience at times for a child to have that “aha” moment – when the lesson bursts onto the scene and the value of what I have taught becomes their own. I find myself counting the days so I can see the fruits of my child-rearing.
The beads of sweat on my brow are more common than I would like to admit as I wait for one or the other of my grown children to flourish, bloom, yield. My appreciation of Dad’s gardening skills,
literally and metaphorically, increase annually. I remain thankful that my Heavenly Father brings the harvest in the fullness of time – in the garden as in life.