The year was 2021. “Wow, that is way more gardening than I have done in my entire life!” The lovely barista from my local drive-through coffee had engaged in a conversation that neither of us had expected. I had begrudgingly stopped in preparation for the day’s work, bypassing my preferred mocha at The Garden Corner coffee bar for a fruity lemonade concocted mix drink (I am trying to cut back on the caffeine). It was typical of this chain to experience some chit-chat while waiting for the drinks to be prepared.
Pre-caffeinated Hannah does not always appreciate the early morning interview, but this particular morning the questions didn’t bother her. I was excited about the day’s work ahead of me. You see, I would spend the day planting for the future. Trudging through mud and bending over is back-breaking work, yet, I could hardly control my enthusiasm. I was going to be outside!
It matters very little that the weather is unpredictable, and that the need for a whole second and third wardrobe packed into my car felt just a smidgen excessive. My brother and I had decided to take growing matters into our own hands. We were branching off on our own to plant a small crop of fir trees that will be carefully grown and maintained. In five to eight years, these exact trees will eventually take up residence in the Garden Corner forest of Christmas trees. This sense of creating something was just a moment to be shared with anyone who dared to stop and ask.
We worked for a week straight planting and ensuring that our rows were lined up neatly. The two of us spent hours working side by side with a helpful hand or two along the way. Lunchtime would roll around, and we’d have our little picnic just out of the rain. It poured that weekend, and it was the last good rain we would see for the rest of the year.
Our investment slowly dried up in the field that year. We watched as our hard work went from small branchings to dry twigs standing straight in the field. By October, we solidly considered our experiment in the gardening world a failure.
Now, the year is 2023. We have had some additions to our team, and the pair of us has expanded to a small Christmas tree village. The four of us siblings and any hands we can convince joining us for the ride. The group, borderline highly trained and almost well-oiled, has decided to take the shovel to the field and prepare a crop for the future.
Armed with college degrees in business, forestry, and engineering, as well as a nurse in training, and a future nuclear engineer/part-time environmentalist just for good measure. In theory, we know exactly what we are doing. Surely, we have gained some genetic advantage over the years. If not through generations, then simply through limited experience gained over the past two years.
While I know in my heart no further education nor additional invested parties are going to strengthen our odds of success. It is the nature of gardening that inspires us to continue to try. The impact that a hard day of work can have on your entire outlook. The feeling of dirt beneath your hands and the plans for something beyond tomorrow.
It could be the bulbs you plant in the fall just peeking through the snow showing signs of spring. It could be the pre-ordered baskets in the greenhouse building their blooms for the summer. Soon it will be the straight lines of fir tree twigs growing steadily into the future, preparing for the day that it will stand straight and proud in the home of a fellow rebel gardener.
Gardening is a constant project; however, it is steady preparation for the wonderful things we can experience outside our windows. While the weather may be unbearable and the future holds a variety of stressors, take the time to plant something and invest in your outdoor future. Where you plant the seeds, progress will bloom.