Finally, Ann and I caught a break from the exhaustion of lawn mowing and maple mayhem! Instead, we were gifted with a morning with our boss weeding, mixing, and replanting the multiple raised beds in the corner of the ESL garden. After potting about twenty excess maple seedlings to be stored in one of the boxes until we figured out something to do with them, we planted a variety of cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and flowers besides the leftover herbs from last years season to…spice things up (get it?). It was pretty simple and satisfying work compared to what we’d been doing the past two days, and it was great to finally get a chance to talk with Carrie. She’s got quite a green thumb and a mind to match; her knowledge about different plants and crops flows effortlessly, filling me with more intrigue and passion for the ESL than I had had before.
Tomatoes can only be planted so close, as they will grow tall and wide and knock out other species if necessary. There are special ways to place a lattice in a raised bed so that cucumbers may climb and hang over a line of growing romaine lettuce underneath. Parsley is a rather pesky herb that seems to infiltrate any open space around it. lavender can be used not only as a calming fragrance, but can be added (in small quantity) to dishes for a unique flavor. Sorrel is a tiny green plant that packs a lemony punch strong enough to leave your salads and sandwiches bursting with natural flavor. And perhaps my favorite part of the day: tasting the chives, a childhood favorite of mine.
Growing up, I spent my summers at my grandparent’s camp on a lake in upstate New York. It was one of my favorite places to be, and tasting those chives brought me instantly back. A text from my mom the night before reminded me of my grandmother, who passed a few years ago. She had been planting some flowers in our backyard at home and was thinking of my grandmother and myself. I was honored to be remembered in the same breath as the woman who taught me so much growing up, and tasting those chives continued my trip down memory lane. Chives always lined my grandmother’s box of spices on the walkway into camp, and every time I meandered sandy and sunburnt inside I would steal some stalks to nibble on. I loved the oniony burst of flavor that lingered on my tongue, and that taste will forever transport me back to a time filled with so much joy and innocence.
Perhaps that’s why today was so meaningful to me. It wasn’t the intense manual labor ann and I had been doing the past few days, but rather a more relaxing experience spent learning and growing alongside our newly started garden. I left work today excited to see what life will sprout from our seedlings and comforted by the gentle memories brought forth by our day of planting.