Wednesday, May 23, 2012

raffle basket and beans

This just happened about a half hour ago.

I am going to make this brief because if I write too much, I'll spoil the story's natural simplicity.

About a month ago, our elementary school had a fun fair to raise money for the PTA.

I bought roughly, oh, 60,000 euros' worth of raffle tickets.

I put most of them in the spa basket and the others in the "Let's Garden!" basket hoppers.

They say life gives you what you need, not what you want.

I won the gardening basket. Thing 3 (8), loves to garden.

This is good.

I do too, although I prefer mostly the flowery kind of gardening.

I have a small herb garden on our deck in a faux whiskey barrel and we have a small vegetable garden in our backyard; it's about 6 feet by 3 feet in size. While it's modest and quaint, symbolic of a fraction of our interest in doing our thing to grow our own food, the breadwinner and I recently overhauled its soil bed. I were a plant, I'd be thrilled to be in there.

Once our wooden playground, that ubiquitous suburban "family lives here" trophy, goes in a few years, we'll make the garden bigger. But then the kids will be grown and closer then to moving on. It's a decision we've waffled on each spring over the past few years: to speed up their youth and take away their play set which they still use or to let them stay kids for as long as we can. . .  we have determined we are in denial, let life ravage us with time, but we're in no rush. The playground stays.

The Monday following the raffle, I untied the tulle netting nestling the basket to examined my loot. The basket was stuffed to the brim with tools, gloves, starter kits, a lovely glazed outdoor planter, tiny terra cotta pots, stakes, spikes and a sole packet of seeds. I was pretty psyched with my win.

The seeds were for green beans.

Didn't Jack get some magic beans? I looked around, but I didn't see a cow in the basket. No goose either.

The packet of bean seeds (which are just beans, let's be clear about this) had already been opened, I'm guessing by nubby hands, curious about how these things go down or maybe even curiouser about whether they were magic beans.

I looked at the packet, which was dated for germination in 2009, considered it for an instant and cast it aside. I have a green thumb with plants that are already living; the ones that come to me as seed ultimately die.

It has been rainy a lot here. I love the rain, it's more than rain to me, it's like a fantastic experience that washes away all the blahs; and when the sun comes back out, as it has today, it's a brilliant and welcome reprise.

Because I'm the only one on staff, I went out to the garden to check on things: the tomatoes have their telltale yellow blossoms, the peas are doing what they do; I have no idea if the eggplant is on schedule, nor do I know anything about zucchini, but everything is still green and larger than it was last week. I nodded at the plants, told them "good show" and turned around.

On my way out, I looked at our collection of raffle basket tools now resting in a decommissioned window planter near the foot of our bright yellow slide. One of the trowels has a massive belly on it; it's more like a bulb planter / trowel combo. It collected about 2 inches of rain. I lifted the handle to discharge the rain water and beneath the handle, I discovered this:

I smiled and actually said, "Hello, beans. You are destined to grow as plants, aren't you?" (My children and good friends will tell you that I often speak to plants and bees and birds. I'm not nuts, I'm excited to be in communion with them.) So I knelt down, picked them up still cradled by their little and futile envelope and put them in the last remaining spot in the garden along the fence-line.

I backed up and regarded the scene, and smiled for many reasons. I smiled most of all because of the reminder that we all can grow, even I can, anywhere, even when I'm feeling lost and confused. We can even grow in our envelopes we've constructed for ourselves; which will try to contain us, but which clearly can't because we're bigger than our envelopes. We just have to relax and let nature take its course.

Thank you.


  1. That'll teach you that you can't tell a seed by its expiration date!!! Have a great day :)

    1. Indeed! We always drink our milk a few days late too... never been disappointed. Thanks for your comments!

  2. You're such a clear, crisp, yet evocative writer. I like your tone. (And, well, I mean it. I really do.)

    Are you on Twitter?

    1. WOW. thank you! "evocative." that's ... well, that's nice. thank you. no...i'm not on twitter. it terrifies me. should i be? i feel (intuitively) that i should be... i feel like that's the missing link.


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