Monday, June 24, 2024

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Lost in the weeds in Lenox

During the COVID summer of 2020, needing an escape from hermetic apartment life in New York City, my family and I bought a home in Lenox, on a few luscious acres.

I am a writer, and I thought I was a gardener, too. Somehow I got tangled up in the two preoccupations and almost lost my way.
Let me explain.
During the COVID summer of 2020, needing an escape from hermetic apartment life in New York City, my family and I bought a home in Lenox, on a few luscious acres.
Finally, after an adult life of living in an apartment overlooking rooftops, water towers and endless paved streets, I would have green grass and a garden all my own, something I had dreamed about for years.
My wife, Emily, and I made a plan to enlarge the existing vegetable garden by at least 50 percent, tilled the soil and erected a pole and wire fence all on our own. I went online and, with eyes too wide open for my own good, ordered enough seeds to fill a garden five times the size of our’s. I had no clue. I read a little, dreamed a lot. Of a vegetable garden so bountiful we’d be gorging on homemade tomato sauce and gazpacho and have enough fresh salad to feed my family of four and all our guests (and neighbors!), too, for at least July and August, if not longer.
The arugula grew so fast I thought I could see it climb towards the sky with my naked eye. We picked and picked and loved the sharp, spicy taste. The bounty seemed endless. We gave bagfuls away.
But it kept growing and our picking and eating began to taper and, well, this is where the writing enters the picture.
I loved the planting — the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash (winter and summer, I think), zucchini, brussel sprouts, and all that arugula and lettuce. You name it, I planted it. Problem was, the July deluge came and the sun sparkled sometimes, too, and the weeds began to grow, and well, you get the picture. Except as a city boy, I didn’t. I soon had a forest within my fenced area, and it wasn’t edible.
But, frankly, all I wanted to do was finish my children’s novel about kids fighting global warming, polish my essay about racial problems, and get to work on my kids’ soccer novel. I realized I cared more about my writing than I did about the weeding. The garden now looks ugly, out of control really, like I planted assorted seeds of gangly, gnarly, spindly weeds. The bounty, aside from all that arugula that has now gone to seed, was pitiful. A half dozen zucchinis, perhaps a dozen tomatoes, maybe three cucumbers, and a squash or two, if my count is correct. Not much else. Woe is my salad, that’s for sure. I got what I deserved.

For next summer, we’ve made a decision to cut the vegetable garden back to its original size and focus on a few veggies: the arugula, of course, and perhaps tomatoes and zucchini. I will continue my writing, because I realize I can’t live without it, even though I can’t eat it.

And about all those seeds I bought? Just email me and you got ‘em.

P.S.: I almost forgot about our disaster of an herb garden, located in a separate garden plot. We succeeded with a little sage and a lot of basil (I even made pesto!). But we also got a plot full of weeds, including one monstrosity that Emily joked looked like it came from Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s taller than I am, has nothing edible attached to it and has leaves the size of dinner plates. If I don’t cut it down in the fall with a hatchet, perhaps I’ll climb it and see what’s up there. It may make for a good story. I think I’ll have time to write it up next summer.


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