As a child, I can remember my mother and father tending to our vegetable garden and watering the many colorful and fragrant flowers that bordered our house in Connecticut. I love the tiny, upside down fairy cup blossoms of the Lily of the Valley, the delicate purple clusters of Lilacs, and the dried, papery white discs of the money plant. I rub them between my fingers and catch the seeds that fall. There, they also grow Marigolds, Zinnias, Morning Glories, Delphiniums, Crocuses, Gladiolas, Peonies, Forsythias, Tulips, and Hydrangeas, all of which now illuminate memories of my childhood home.
The garden is fenced in with a brick path along the center. I can remember digging it, finding worms and grub as we prepared the soil, and later, my mother and father collecting their bounty of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, and lettuces. Certainly this isn’t a farm, but we still live simply and happily, relishing nature in a small town. My mother hangs wet sheets to dry over the clothesline. In the autumn we pick apples, and in late summer, raspberries.
Part of the magic and beauty of childhood is the mysterious passage of time, known mainly through day to night, breakfast to lunch, or season to season — otherwise, we are timeless creatures able to wile a day away picking buttercups and lifting them beneath our sisters’ chins, asking over and over, “Do you like butter?” My parents must work hard as they tend to the garden and the flowers, and yet I am unaware of all this even as I dig beside them with my little spade.
I am proud of my own family’s little garden, even though it seems to take a lot more work and isn’t quite as tidy or colorful as the one I knew as a child. I wonder if this is because I am grown, and I worry about such things now. Piper may remember our garden (and gardens to come) fondly. Her little hands are often reaching for unripe tomatoes or tearing off small pieces of kale from their stalks. Nature does seem universally compelling.