Welcome to Salt Spring Garden…

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Path to Gardens

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This blog will go live once the novel, The Shade Of Her Eyes, is published.

For now, the blog post that ends the novel is copied below.

The Spring Garden – Breaking Through

It rained during the night here on Salt Spring Island where I live with a beautiful woman named Jennifer in a home that has been a part of her family for generations. Late night rain is a good sign they say for the spring season ahead. It’s an omen of fertility to spark the new garden we’re about to plant, as well as to guide our work restoring the overgrown apple orchard that Jennifer’s mom planted decades ago.

It’s going to be an exploration for all of us, exploring both the old and new simultaneously, just like me jumping into the modern world by launching this blog, and yet going back in time, back to the land and learning how to grow our own food.

When Jennifer and I walked through the orchard this morning, the branches were already dotted with young leaves as if green snowflakes had fallen during the night and stuck to the dark branches. After waiting all winter to get going, the new growth now had to fight for space and sunlight with other plants that have ideas of their own in these fertile months.

I came upon an old apple tree that’s used to this kind of struggle. Its gnarled trunk had to fight its way through part of a fence that collapsed on it many years ago and split the trunk in half. The tree is doing just fine and seems healthier because of the fight, with two stout trunks now, one on each side of the fence.

It’s not just the trees that have to find their way to the flickering light that filters through the leafy canopy of evergreens that surround the orchard. There are wild blackberry and raspberry bushes thriving as they tangle their way through the wire braces designed to hold them back, climbing over them, using them for support, growing taller because of the barriers they’ve overcome, better able to spread out, to become some new version of themselves.

All of this is my first lesson from the garden and I haven’t planted a single seed yet. The lesson sends me back decades ago when I hitchhiked up Highway 1 with a good friend of mine named Dave Bodner. We got picked up near Big Sur by a guy wearing army fatigues driving a jeep. He said he was on leave from Vietnam. He was the first real soldier we’d ever met though later we weren’t sure if he was a soldier at all.

We didn’t spend more than an hour or two with him, but he said something to us that I haven’t forgotten, something I didn’t really understand until this morning here in the garden.

He said, “Sometimes the things outside us are stronger than the things inside us.”

I’ve lived most of my life thinking it was a negative thing he was saying…that the world corrupted us, bent us to its will, polluted our core. But here in the wild nature of the orchard and berry bushes, I see now that the opposite is also true.

Obstacles provide the impetus for us to change, to grow, to become more than ourselves. I don’t want to get too heavy philosophically here in my very first post. It’s just that it struck me right in the face to see how determined these plants were to find their way, not to give in, but rather to break through and thrive.

Jennifer and I are going to clear some of the weeds over the next week, fertilize the soil, and then lay out rows for runner beans, red potatoes, brussels sprouts, carrots, and spring lettuce. I figure if we work at it regularly and care for the garden properly, we should be eating fresh veggies by mid-summer and pressing apple cider by late Fall.

Then the garden will go fallow for the winter, and next spring we’ll begin again. Yep, the cycle of life. The Circle Game and all that. Of course, there’s a long time between then and now and a lot of work to get done between now and then, before the days grow shorter and the seasons turn again.

We’re ready for it…hope you are, too.

Cheers,

Chris & Jennifer

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NEXT POST: GETTING MY HANDS DIRTY

 

 

 

 

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