A lot has happened, and not happened, between our first days of horticulture in May, and this day in mid-June. There were bubbles of joy when the first cucumber leaves appeared above the mulch, like sharp points of green light.
Encouraged, I sowed a second round of seeds between wet paper towels, to give them a head start. I waited one week, then peeked. There were four minuscule shoots.
My joy was short-lived. Like wild baby animal orphan babies who bond with unrelated species, the shoots had imbedded themselves into the paper towels. I tried to unhook one little one after another, but they would not let go.
All right, Mother Nature. Have it your way. I planted the seedlings in the mulch, still attached to their paper placentas. Only one has survived, far below the leaves of his siblings, plants that have started to reach for the trellis I placed in the soil, five minutes after I planted the seeds.
A trellis rising above mounds of ungerminated seeds is the epitome of hope. The cukes are headed upward!
Three and a half weeks after we planted, the back patio teems with hope. Leaves the size of lily pads hover over struggling dill and chives. The carrots are in dire need of culling, but I dare not touch them until the little farmer who left on a trip, returns to choose which stalk to rip from the earth so that the rest may grow.
A garden is hope for the future. A garden is also a cruel place. Every two weeks I enlist an army of ladybugs and charge them with doing unladylike chores – devouring the aphids that chew on the leaves. Carnivorous snails that attack leaf eating snails. The caterpillars? The tower of tomato plants could be under siege from a host of deadly hosts tomato fruit worm, potato aphid, stink bug, leaffooted bug, hornworm, silver leaf whitefly.
So far, no sign of the enemy. Or, Peter Rabbit.
I would knock on some dogwood. Alas, none grow here.