GARDENER GAIL

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GARDENER GAIL

“The glory of gardening:  hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.  To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.  –William Blake

 

As if her multiple full-time jobs aren’t enough.  And, adding to them, Gail has several side ventures: her Pampered Chef business, her art created from antique wood and tin and she dabbles in oils.  Oh, and she also gardens.

As if.

She already works circles around me and Suzanne, and then she really makes us look like slackers by adding gardening to the mix.  She doesn’t do this to make us look bad, it is simply her high-gear default setting.

And I’m not talking about a few tomatoes and cucumbers, although she does produce those quite well.   I’m talking about onions and beets, too.  And potatoes and peppers–multiple varieties.

 

Oh, I’ve got a garden, all right.  And it’s is an incredible garden.  It’s just that the only work I do in it is eating what comes out of it.  My master-of-all-trades husband Mark gardens, too.  He enjoys it, I don’t.  So, I let him do it.  I think I’ve already made it clear that he is an over-achiever.  Have you ever been in a garden you had to sweep?  He got bored during one stretch several years ago, and after he built the raised boxes, he decided to tile it as well.

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I’m not even kidding.  I couldn’t make this up if I tried. 

**

 

I planted a garden once.  Once.  I was still in high school, and I asked Mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day.  She said she wanted someone to plant the garden for her.  I look like my mother. Apparently, I am like her in the respect that I don’t really like to garden, either.  I didn’t really want to, but she was an awesome mom, and it was Mother’s Day.  

 So, I did.  That was the only time I have ever planted a garden.  I am coming clean right here—I am a lazy, slacker gardener.  That should be no surprise after I admitted my slacker tendencies in last week’s post.

Suzanne makes no claims to be a gardener, either.  Like me, she likes to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of someone else’s labors, but that’s the extent of it. 

This is the extent of her garden this year: 

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Now, as promised, back to Gail’s garden.

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Gail, like my husband is an over-achiever.  Except that that’s all they know, and I am judging in relative terms, so it’s all good.  Good for me when I get to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of their labors.

Gail’s potato patch was green and blooming early in the summer,

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before the heat and repeated blows from several rounds of intense storms recently in western Kansas.

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The backyard took a hit, as did the community.

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Gail wasted no time in cleaning up her yard and garden–as well as helping the community cleanup–and got back to the business of gardening—and living.  She had stuff to do, things to get done.

“Life is like a garden.  We all face storms, and get weeds in our lives, but the end result, if you weather it, is good,” she said. 

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Another of Gail’s multiple talents is that of a canner, canning her garden abundance.  The zucchini, I learned, are gifts from other gardeners.  

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Her canned salsa is perfect in every way.  She also makes a zucchini relish that, while it may not sound versatile or tasty, it is over-the-top on both counts.   She jokes that if you leave your car unlocked in her small town at this time of year, you are likely to find zucchini in it.  She sometimes finds it on her front porch, and she welcomes it.

Mark sometimes refers to his garden as a “salsa garden,” as he plants a lot of tomatoes and peppers.  He then makes an awesome fresh—not canned–salsa from them.  He grows cilantro as well, but it blooms early and not often. 

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“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.  –Luther Burbank

Not only does Gail plant a vegetable garden, she has an incredible green thumb for potted flowers as well. 

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My husband has a green thumb for flowers, too.  Every year he plants a variety in the ground and in pots. 

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He knows Mom loved begonias, so he plants a pot of them every year in her honor. 

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Lantanas are favorites for both of us.

I actually got my fingers dirty about ten years ago and planted daffodil bulbs.  I knew they had to be planted in the fall before the first ground freeze, and in my usual slacking fashion, I planted them the day before it froze.  They are the first harbingers of spring, and when they bloom every year, I feel a sense of hope again; I know I can make it through the winter.   

About 12 years ago, my husband and I took a weekend trip in May, and Suzanne watched our boys, then ages ten and seven.  She drove them by the outdoor greenhouse in town, and made the comment that she was surprised that the plants and flowers weren’t stolen, as they were left outside after business hours unattended.  She shared our son’s response:

Our ten-year old, without missing a beat replied: “Only mean people steal, and mean people don’t like flowers.”

**

The house that built us, the farmhouse we all grew up in came down several years ago.  It was time.  My brother and his family live on the farm and have since built a new house there, continuing to be the perfect stewards of that special spot of land.

On the lot where the house stood, they plan to plant a garden. 

Perfect.

**

It went by without fanfare last year, and I’m afraid Suzanne’s birthday slipped by again this year.  She was in the hospital last year, and this year she is traveling with her boyfriend.   Another year is always a gift, however, and acknowledging that she added a digit to her age is always a good thing—age is a gift, don’t forget. 

Seven years ago on her birthday, she was given a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.  On her birthday.  Every birthday since then is always a big one, but she will celebrate a really big one next year. 

Gail will celebrate a big one next February.  It will be a good year for birthday parties, and I’m sure you will have the opportunity to read about them.

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The gardens are almost done; it won’t be long before the cold temperatures will render them dormant for another year.  Gardens, even when they appear dead, are always a sign of hope.  Like everything else in nature, it will become alive and vibrant again.  Just like life–time always heals and makes us vibrant again.  After all, life did begin in a garden.

“The most lasting and pure gladness comes to me from my gardens.”—Lillie Langtry.

Mine comes to me from many people in my life, especially my sisters. 

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