A Bit of Earth

“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?”

In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.

“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”

“To plant seeds in–to make things grow–to see them come alive,” Mary faltered.

He gazed at her a moment and then passed his hand quickly over his eyes.

“Do you–care about gardens so much,” he said slowly.

“I didn’t know about them in India,” said Mary. “I was always ill and tired and it was too hot. I sometimes made little beds in the sand and stuck flowers in them. But here it is different.”

Mr. Craven got up and began to walk slowly across the room.

“A bit of earth,” he said to himself, and Mary thought that somehow she must have reminded him of something. When he stopped and spoke to her his dark eyes looked almost soft and kind.

“You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of some one else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,” with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive.”

–The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Since I came to the city in September I’ve mourned the loss of my garden. Of course with a full time job I wouldn’t have enough time to negotiate with the bindweed and blackberries for garden space, much less do all the other tasks required by a large garden. But as trees started budding and spring blossoms opened I couldn’t help aching a little bit, knowing that I wouldn’t be participating in the growth cycle in the same way this year.

Weedy!
Weedy!

Then my girlfriend’s mom asked if I’d like to garden with her. Of course I said yes.

bitofearth1
Less Weedy

And that was when I was granted two raised of my own to plant in. It’s a much smaller space than I had before, so I have to choose what to plant carefully, but it’s a chance to get my hands in the ground–and it’s a project I can manage in the time allowed, especially since there will be someone there to water when I can’t make it across town to check on my plants.

Compost at the Ready
Compost in Waiting

As you can see, the beds were full of weeds and in need of a good layer of compost (hence the line of plastic bags), but the little garden itself is a charming space. And more importantly I get to share it. I had forgotten how gardening is excellent therapy until I started clearing the weeds from the first bed.

When I get around to posting again I’ll tell you about the (other) unexpected gift, and show you what I planted. I know you can hardly wait.

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