You can’t always garden in 4 seasons…

I had made plans to say different things on monday. I was going to share with you my vegetable reviews of 2016. But life has a way of unexpectedly throwing a gigantic rock into the machine. For various reasons, This has probably been the worst 365 days I’ve ever lived, if we begin counting at the end of October 2015. And I still have another 3 weeks to go before that clock has come back to the top again.

I only briefly hinted at a crappy time earlier this year, but I have just recently lost my dad to cancer. The ugly and gray, hateful C. I know that NOBODY likes cancer, but now that there is nobody in my family suffering, nobody in my friend circle fighting it, I have absolutely no interest in it. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to participate in fundraisers, walks, runs, relays, or awareness events. I want to turn my back away from it, and just completely deny its existence.  Some people are granted a little bit of time to live a little before the fight becomes exhausting.  My dad, on the other hand, had very little time, and our time with him was ripped from us quicker than we could even act on any plans to enjoy the last of our time together as a full family.

I wanted to make a nod toward my dad’s role in my passion in gardening.  Dad wasn’t REALLY a  huge gardener, but he had the knowledge that you should have. He grew veggies when we were all so young, and took it up again this summer because I gave him things to plant. It’s funny, after he saw the first raised bed in the greenhouse complete, he asked ,y husband, “why isn’t there more planted in here? why isn’t this full yet?” I actually did go back later and fill that bed with more tomato plants, and a pattypan squash. I was given a lot more harvest than I could handle! He was always one who considered maximizing everything. Should always consider reasonably maximizing your possibilities. Oh, how I plan to, as I dream big. But I do not recommend planting a pattypan in a small space. That thing was fierce, and I almost lost an eyeball trying to tame it..seriously!

Sometime after or during horticulture school, I gave him grape vines to plant along the fence. He was a winemaker, and he learned not too far along, that pouring the juice remnants of winemaking into the grape vines seemed to help them thrive. Our cannibal grape wines.  I took many cuttings this spring from his vines. I didn’t want to ever lose that part of him.  Again, as adventurous as he is, he bought a couple of haskaps, that I cautioned him would get pretty damn big for a city property. So I have haskaps on the property (the ones he decided to plant here instead) which he got to sample this spring. Dad also gave me a  second raised bed for my greenhouse. Originally, we had planned to all build it together, but as I mentioned, time, wellness, and plans all got dashed too quickly for us to do that together.

The last day we got to say goodbye, I went to the hospital’s garden with my sister and my husband. We sat together at a concrete table. It was far from the peak season in any garden, Whoever tends this garden has done quite a beautiful job. They hadn’t done any fall cleanup, so all the spent seedheads were still present in the garden. It felt appropriate for the day, as there is something promising and reminiscient of a seedhead in the fall. A memory of summer’s splendor, and the potential to sow a future generation of memories in the coming spring.

It was a good place to spend the time to grieve and reminisce for the three of us. It really reminds me and repeats again, as I said previously, that no matter how tough life is, you can turn to the garden or even the outdoors to help yourself heal emotionally. I don’t always think I can identify the reason why it makes me feel better to be outside when I’m hurt, but I don’t want to discover it either. I dragged myself outdoors the day after dad passed, just to be in the warm sunshine, to drag my feet through the rhodo forest, smell the sweet pine needles on the ground. Sit and look out to the fields behind me. It’s not too late to say I would like to ensure one day there is a very peaceful place to sit and heal here in every season. Many places here give me peace.  It reminds me that there is a sense of abandonment in winter though, and I will probably seek out some smaller evergreens in the spring.

He wouldn’t want me to mope too long, because like he always said, “don’t worry about it.” So like I said earlier, I have another 3 weeks before I can confirm, yup, worst 365 day cycle ever. But I’m going to use my healing time to grieve and channel a good amount of it into the garden. Clean up the remnants of summer, open the sights for fall and winter interest. Plant nearly a dozen grape vine cuttings from dad’s fence line.

This is a bittersweet season. I’ll always remember we lost dad at the most beautiful peak of fall.

I had to share, and will resume with my veggie review post in a few more days, with the intent to be back to a more organized pattern. I apologize for no photos this week. I’m still quite scatterbrained. All I’ve done is plant a dozen daylilies and clean dead tomato plants. Felt good to get something done though.

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