Monday, 11 December 2017

C Columns

Notes from Home: Finding God in the Garden

By Dani Grigg

I never would have predicted this as a kid, but it turns out I love to garden.

I found this out when I bought my first home seven years ago. We moved in, and there was a garden plot, and it was spring. It was inevitable. I started planting things.

And it was a miracle — they grew! So did the weeds, and I couldn’t tell them apart, butI did my best. That summer and fall, I ate tomatoes from my own backyard. They tasted like sunshine.

I still haven’t gotten over the miracle of gardens. You plant something small in the dirt, you water it and you wait. Before your eyes, shoots and leaves start to appear. Then flowers. Then fruit. Every day the fruit gets bigger, and then you eat it and it’s delicious. And you grew it! It feels like magic.

So my kids have grown up appreciating the magic of a garden. We keep an eye out for new blossoms or marble-sized pumpkins or reddening strawberries and shout for everyone to come and see when we spot them. My kids hate tomatoes but still feel some of my joy when I find the tiny green balls bursting from the yellow flowers.

The downside is they also feel some of my grief when any of my little miracles meet an unhappy end.

This summer my heart dropped when I noticed a dozen shiny brown dots clinging to the bottom of a zucchini leaf. Squash bug eggs, I guessed, and a quick image search on my phone confirmed my fear. I mournfully scraped off those eggs and the many others I found, but within days all my zucchini and pumpkin plants were crawling with the foul creatures.

I’d experienced squash bugs once before, and it was devastating. Lush, beautiful plantshad turned rotten and dead under my desperate watch.

For days I picked the bugs off one by one — or two by two, really, because they were always coupled up, aggressively multiplying, the jerks. I dropped them in a bucket of soapy water, knowing they’d drown. It was gruesome work, but I couldn’t lose my previously thriving plants.

My dismayed shouts each time I discovered another bug or egg cluster attracted my two boys, and they worried with me and pointed out bugs for me to snatch.

Things were not looking good, and it was almost time to leave on vacation. I told my older son, who’s 6, that we needed to say a prayer. He asked God to watch over our garden and keep it safe from the squash bugs while we were gone.

After he was done, I gently mentioned it was possible the plants would still die.

“No it’s not, we prayed!” he countered incredulously.

It was a hard moment. I loved his faith, but I also knew God takes care of us in ways that aren’t always as simple as granting our requests. I wanted to help him broaden his understanding of faith and prayer and God a little bit so his worldview wouldn’t be turnedupside down if our plants didn’t survive.

I started out wrong.

“Well, sometimes things don’t work out how we think they should work out,” I said. “God made us this world, and it’s a world with squash bugs, and sometimes the squash bugs win and that’s just how it goes.”

“So God is MEAN??” he asked.

Nope, nope, nope. I tried again.

“No... He loves us and wants us to learn a lot while we’re on earth. Maybe He wants us to learn about squash bugs so we can be better gardeners,” I ventured. “And maybe He’ll help us to feel happy even if our plants die.”

“Oh,” he said, deflated.

That day we ran into a friend who told us about some powder she puts on infested squash plants. It felt like an answer to our prayer.

We coated the plants and left on vacation. When we got back, the plants were still alive, but so were the bugs.

We kept picking the bugs off and I coated the plants one more time.

A few weeks later, one and a half zucchini plants had turned to dust, but half of one lived on. It gave us six beautiful zucchinis.

I’m thinking maybe we experienced the best of both worlds. We learned an important lesson but also felt the joy and magic of watching our garden grow.

Dani Grigg is a Boise freelance writer, wife and happy mother of two young sons.

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