This season’s garden has been a little disappointing. The asparagus didn’t produce much and now the patch is completely choked with weeds that I can’t quite bring myself to tackle. Every time I walk by I think, “man, I hope it doesn’t completely die.” The tomatoes, for the second year in a row, are being affected by late blight (and getting eaten by something) and fade away to nothing before they turn red. The zucchini, so prolific a month ago has succumbed to bugs, and the cucumbers just never took off. The vole got the beets once again, the brussels spouts are not sprouting, and the carrots are a sorry lot of thin and stubby. There is a lot of failure if failure’s what I’m looking for.
But when I look again, I realize that there are literally thousands of pounds of purple viking and German butterball potatoes in the ground, just waiting to be harvested. Despite the sad state of the heirlooms, the sungold tomatoes are falling from the vines like offerings. The pole bean teepee, after a rocky start thanks to some very friendly rabbits, has gotten a second wind and the vines are dripping with slender green goodness.
The raspberry and blackberry bushes are providing a few cups a day, and the blueberries did the best they ever have. We froze bag after bag of huge strawberries. I just pulled the garlic, and the bulbs are perfect – every single one that I planted germinated and produced. The basil is bushy, there are more onions and leeks than one family needs, and amidst the sea of grass that has gone to seed are five types of winter squash. There’s even a watermelon that has gotten bigger than a golf ball.
And the sunflowers. I’ve been trying to grow huge, ten foot tall sunflowers for at least five years, and every year has resulted in disappointment. But this year. This year, they are reaching toward the sky, towering over me every time I walk in to pull a pathetic carrot, reminding me that failure is only a slice of the pie. At the end of the day, there is more abundance to go around than even the greediest baker might want.
Abundance in disguise. I’ll take it. Every time I walk by these sunflowers I am reminded that things work. Sure, some things don’t. Sometimes it seems like there is death and disappointment around every other corner. But sometimes the sunflowers grow to be ten feet tall, and you remember that all is not lost.