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Too Early, Too Late, Help

by Richard L. Provencher  
6/14/2016 / Humor

When I lived in Northern Quebec, the only garden we ever grew was covered in stones. Some were pretty with copper pyrite flakes. Never rounded like those I found later on the shores of large lakes, but jagged as if the mining countryside I lived on was determined to protect its territorial hold on the landscape.

Yes, it was said the only things you could grow "up north" was rocks.

When our family moved to southern Ontario, I could not believe how well everything grew. The farmers covered their fields with tractors, thrusting forward over great sheaves of growth, especially corn and hay, sights I had never seen before. Tomatoes, carrots, beets and asparagus spread lusciously in backyard patches of black earth full of zing. There seemed to be nary a rock to come between finger and seed.

"My turn to grow a garden!" I yelled to friends who cheered me on.

I was determined to produce the best garden there ever was. My son, Troy, ten years of age shared my eagerness. My wife, Esther, born on a farm, aside Cape Spear in New Brunswick, smiled knowingly as I dug fingers into the churned up earth. Such peace as I closed my eyes and absorbed the humus scent, felt the black earth press under my fingernails and finally awoke from this revelry as my son spoke up.

"Come on dad, I opened all the packages of seed. Let's put them in now. Okay?"

He was more like my wife, a no-nonsense kind of person. 'Let's get the job done' kind of guy. I was the dreamer, oh, the scenery of the fruits of my first garden. I could imagine my wife smiling from the window. She will be so pleased when her man stomps into the house carrying an armload of potatoes.

Troy and I built up long mounds, which we filled with seed. I wasn't sure how many should be sprinkled in, but I felt the more the merrier. My son suggested we follow the directions, but what does he know? He's only a kid. We quickly scrabbled in the dirt to complete our task, since it began snowing.

Snowing in April, in Sarnia, Ontario? Impossible, I thought. Somehow we managed to get our seeds under protection as an assault of the white stuff covered our little garden, my first efforts. My wife did advise it was much too early in the season.

When it was finally warm and proper (according to my wise wife) two sons were now helping. This time we waited until late June, and the weather more accommodating. Yes, I thought, there will be a garden of plenty with our twelve rows, about six inches apart, giving us more goodies to harvest.

I didn't mind the weeds, which suddenly appeared in great abundance, determined to overcome my first garden. My dear wife said later, "Your rows are too close."

"Next season I'll do better," I promised.

And when my children were a year older; my daughter, Susan and both sons helped with earnest suggestions. They met with neighbourhood children and cautioned them about raiding my garden-to-be. "Be kind to our dad," Walt asked his friends. "He tries so hard with his garden project."

Now I thought, I was prepared for any weeds. My rows were less in number, because they were three feet apart, and using my lawnmower would keep the weeds down. Fellow workers thought it strange, when I regularly announced, "Got to go home and mow my garden." It brought forward more than a few chuckles.

Our family collectively had much more success over the years. We finally grew a variety of crops, berries and cucumbers, and carrots, and corn, and I gratefully acknowledged my wife as CEO of our garden-project.

2016 Richard L. Provencher

Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

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