We have just about hit our planting quota. Our garden beds are stocked and all of the transplants and ground-sown seeds are taking off. With a few touches here and there, like maintaining the cycle of the herb and onion bed, and scattering seeds over small areas critters have dug up, we sit and watch everything from the overflowing Ol’ Mother Hubbard squash vines to the Berkley tomato plant’s bursting, vibrant yellow flower petals.
There’s a daily afternoon ritual that begins with a walkabout with Scout, our overzealous, puppy-like lab, who, throughout the day, often forgets his age, almost eight decades in human years. Every morning, Scout moans as he lifts his weary hips from his orthopedic dog bed, chases a ball for an average of five throws, drops the ball after the fifth time, and sniffs around pre-occupied with a few side glances at us in hopes we don’t notice he’s too tired and has to take a break. Yet, in the late afternoon, similarly to the elderly friends in the movie Cocoon, Scout reawakens with youthful vigor and prances around the property at our sides with a mud caked tennis ball in his mouth.
Our afternoons on the farm begin directly behind the house, where I’m given a lecture about watering potted seeds and succulents. While the constant tips and reminders are being re-verbalized for the umpteenth time, I think of garden art projects, future recipes, and how some of those Anna apples must be ready to eat by now! I’ll admit, I’ve had some watering mishaps in the past. I also err on being somewhat of an impatient gardener, planting some seeds a bit too early and sometimes picking things before they’re ready. Part of the afternoon ritual is being advised on how to avoid a cycle of past follies, and me smiling and nodding politely, appreciating the love, care, and enthusiasm my partner has for the sanctuary we’ve created.
As we pass through the yard, we’ll pick some of the largest blueberries and discuss how the potted strawberries and various herbs are coming along. Beyond the tiered herb garden and berry bushes, past the large established citruses and Haas, we enter the land of fruit trees and raised garden beds. Like Scout’s second wind, another loving onslaught of reminders commences, this time tied in with conundrums, usually about watering and fertilizing. Yes, I have a bit of a history there too, and I don’t mind the witty reminders- I need them as my attention tends to wander to the enormity of the blood red Detroit beets popping above the soil, the abundance of artichokes towering over my head, young pickling cucumbers hanging over vine string, and new growth everywhere. With vision, careful planning and ingenuity, this half acre of once weeds, dust, and debris, has just about become a real working farm, sans animals- well, there’s just Scout. I had a part in it also…I’m sure.
Our walkabout ends just before the sun begins to set over the neighboring Mediterranean rooftops and pepper trees. One of us brings out the snifter pint glasses and an IPA to share the last sunny moments. In front of a rock pile, a future fire pit, we recline on white plastic garden chairs, silently, like old kindred spirits, enjoying our beer and each other, watching everything grow.