Last year was the worst for gardening since my return swing to Kansas twenty years ago. We had excessive heat for weeks and went without rain even longer. The National Weather Service states the average high temperature for Wichita during June-August was 98.3; the minimal rainfall was ineffective.
Kansans are often criticized for their talk of the weather, but it is a critical part of our lives. Ever watch 120 acres of soy beans fry in the heat? Have you watched as your entire crop simply withered and laid its head to the earth to die? We talk of weather because we depend on it every year of our lives.
I stood in grocery lines as neighbors told me they had no tomatoes. We had few squash, melons, or even root crops. We were skunked.
But this spring, we watch as the earth sighs greatly and takes in the rain. I recall days when I pushed a mower until I thought my body would die for need of a drink. I remember taking a full glass of tea, draining it with such exquisite pleasure as I gave my cells their needed moisture. Can you not imagine how our farms and gardens are now soaking in the gallons of rain and doing the same? Ahhhh, the soil breathes to us, as it takes in the water.
We lost a few plants that couldn’t stand the strain. My beautiful bleeding heart is being replaced, and a few of my old columbines are no more. But other plants surged from the earth mightily – larger and stronger than I have ever seen them. I have lilacs that haven’t bloomed so robustly in years. The resurrection lilies are nearly three feet tall. I cut two pounds of asparagus from my meager plot this week. What is this magic of grace that I am witnessing?
I wish that country living was as ideal as we see in the magazines – with image of lilac green lanes and sheep grazing on the hillside. But, the truth is, country means fighting those darned grasshoppers with guinea hens, pulling weeds in the hot days, picking ticks off dogs, and suffering frustration when the wheat truck won’t start and the combines are waiting. That’s all country.
But country is also that breathless moment when the sun goes down, or that exquisite thundercloud as it builds in the west. It is picking a tomato that did well, eating a salad from your own garden, having eggs from your own hens, and loving your kids as you send them to a local school. Life may be so simple that there are days of plenty, days of want. But most certainly, every day is a day of grace.
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