This newsletter article was originally published in late July 2021 after returning from a trip to visit family in the Midwest. Reading it again in the current context makes me think about how much of my faith is rooted in what happens during the upcoming weeks of Lent and Holy Week. A friend of mine once traveled to Europe at the end of March. He told a story about the town they were visiting and how all the businesses and attractions were closed due to religious parades and festivals. He commented that “They have this thing called Holy Week!” It wasn’t something he was familiar with. At first I thought, “How can he not know about Holy Week?” The fact that it was so familiar to me made me realize how much Lent and Holy Week have been a part of my religious roots. It started when I was young with my parents taking me to church and encouraging participation in church activities. This translated into the desire to attend church when my wife and I were out on our own and first moved to Boise. Now it continues in taking our kids to church, church activities and celebrating the seasons of the church, hoping it takes root in the next generation.
The last two weeks of June are a mad scramble in the gardens as I continue to harvest, wash, pack, and deliver CSA shares but also finish planting, transplanting, weeding, mulching, watering to prepare for our family’s yearly vacation back to the Midwest. I really look forward to the time away, but to leave the gardens mostly on their own for nine days takes at least that amount of work to get it ready for my absence. During a normal year, the heat of early July can take a toll on the veggies and supercharge growth in weeds. The extreme and prolonged high temps this year gave me extra worry. I know the well-established plants should do ok, but newly planted cukes, winter squash, corn, and bean, edamame, and beet seedlings can easily be overwhelmed if there is a hiccup in the watering schedule or a few weeds are missed. I am thankful for my neighbor Lloyd for his diligence in ensuring the watering at Garden Bell got started during the once-a-week allotted time. There is never enough time to get everything done, but all I can do is give it my best shot and wish the little plants good luck.
For nearly a half-century my parents have rented a cabin at a lake in Minnesota for a week over the Fourth of July. It started when I was a baby and gradually my two younger brothers joined in as they were born. I have great memories of golfing, fishing and playing in the water with them and Aunts, Uncles and cousins who also rented at the same lake. Now as my brothers and I have families of our own, we continue to get together with my parents each year. It is now our kids who get to spend special time with their cousins and build lifelong memories and strengthen relationships with each other and their grandparents. It was an extra special gathering this year after missing each other last year due to covid. It was also my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary this year. We shared a wonderful meal and stories with the whole family.
As we were nearing the end of the week together and with a two-day drive back to Boise, we were discussing if there was time to swing by my parents’ farm on the way. Our travel schedule was tight with Calvin heading up to our church camp and the CSA starting up the day after we got home. Since we only get back there once a year, we decided to take the short detour to the farm where I grew up. Leaving the highway and driving for a few miles on dusty gravel roads, I still remembered the names of most of the families that once lived in the nearby farmsteads.
As we got closer, I recounted stories of my youth for Calvin and Naomi, who are always clamoring for a new insight into my activities when I was young. Like here, it has been a dry year in North Dakota. Without irrigation, most of the grass in the yard was light green or brown. We walked around the house and visited the trees that my parents planted the year Calvin was born. Sixteen years of growth and they are pushing 25 feet tall. We toured my mom’s garden of pumpkins, melons, onions, carrots, and basil and checked on my dad’s sweet corn that was short but already starting to tassel. Much had changed since we were last there a few years ago, but much more was still the same as it was when I last lived there almost 30 years ago. It felt good and comfortable and reassuring to be there. It made me smile to see Calvin taking pictures and asking questions about different parts of the farm. As we hopped in the car to head back to Boise, I thought of the similar importance of strong roots for plants and for people. As both a gardener and a parent, there is never enough time to do everything. All one can do is help get things started, provide support and guidance and give them the best chance for successful growth.
Be Abundantly Nourished,