Everything is green here in Oklahoma! The garden we started (it seems so long ago) has grown into something beautiful, due in no small part to all the rain we’ve received lately. We have been slowly harvesting our basil, cilantro, thyme, and chives for a month or so now. These all started (in our garden at least) as young plants, not seeds, but we planted many other plants from seed, including green beans, lettuce, spinach, carrots, peppers, cucumbers… My, how the mind wanders and the mouth waters. The joy of walking to the garden to retrieve a few fresh herbs for cooking and experiencing the fresh taste of, not only an herb, but the success of your own hard work is something only a gardener can appreciate. That is, we *think* only a gardener can appreciate it. We are but fledgling gardeners, but it feels right.
Those little moments are nice, of course; however, they are not as nice as what I experienced last night. You see, our garden finally yielded some harvestable spinach and arugula that we started from seed a month before. This was an important moment for us because it was the first time we ate something from our garden that grew from a seed. To take a seed; to cultivate it; to give it water, sunlight, and good earth; to suffer the impatient times when all you can do is watch it grow, despite your mistakes; to see it transform into something new and beautiful and experience the mature power you cultivated within it — that is a transformative moment. It takes those resources to grow. It takes nutrients that can only come from good earth. It takes time and patience. It takes mistakes.
Last night, we sat at dinner to some cheeseburgers (with our fresh spinach tucked neatly between bun and burger) and some spinach salad on the side. Now, my 10- and 14-year-old sons are not big fans of salad. Oh, I suppose that’s fair, given that I was no fan when I was their ages. That being said, my eldest son, Nate, enjoyed the bite I shared with him. It was important to me that the boys experience that. They both helped create the garden, after all. They were part of the planning and the building, part of the sowing and the growing. They helped build our raised garden beds, shovel soil, and plant the seeds. I suspect, however, that the significance of that small bite of salad passed him by like only such things can pass by a 14-year-old boy, whose thoughts are focused more on anything from tomorrow’s math final to finishing the next level in Halo. Alas. He is, however, an avid fan of tomatoes (which are growing quickly), so I suspect he will understand it soon enough.
But, as I sat at the dinner table last night, eating my spinach, I began thinking about Mother’s Day. You see, I’m a divorced father, and my boys were, of course, with their mother that day. Before dropping them off the night before, I made sure to take the boys shopping for ingredients to make their mother a special breakfast (I may be divorced, but my boys WILL learn how to treat well the special people in their lives). Their mother’s breakfast was to include juice, some fruit, and an omelet. Now, Nate has become quite adept at making omelets, something I taught him about a year ago after his graduation from mere scrambled eggs. Later that Mother’s Day, I heard through the magic of social media that their mother, after being told by her sons to go back to bed upon waking them, overheard them preparing her breakfast in the kitchen. She happily observed Nate teaching his little brother not only how to make an omelet, but also how to prepare his own scrambled eggs.
Now, this little scene may appear normal to any outsider, but to me, it was a powerful moment. Their mother obviously received a nice Mother’s Day surprise that morning, but I received something too. A father’s pride. Here was my little boy, grown from a seed, cultivated with care, and given water, sunlight, and “good earth.” Here was a young man planting a seed of his own, passed down from his father, into his younger brother. Perhaps, selfishly, I wanted to one day teach my youngest son how to cook as I did Nate. But, those feelings were immediately washed away by the power of legacy as I thought about my son passing down that seed and offering his own “good earth” to his younger brother. I can honestly say that I have never been more proud of my boys. It was perhaps a day that their mother will not soon forget, but it is a one I will keep in my heart forever. Honestly, who needs Father’s Day with a gift like that?
To take a seed; to cultivate it; to give it water, sunlight, and good earth; to suffer the impatient times when all you can do is watch it grow, despite your mistakes; to see it transform into something new and beautiful and experience the mature power you cultivated within it — that is a transformative moment.
Good earth indeed.
Family portrait by Pioneer Photography