I use this book, pulled from a box of Great Aunt Dorothy's things after she moved on from here, the small woman who saved lightbulbs and used tissue, the woman whose dressers I painted, whose double bed I sleep on. She followed each blossom with a paintbrush labeled for each plant and hand pollinated her garden. She was a good gardener, married to my Grandpa's brother.
When I was at Grandpa's funeral, I watched his little brother's hands all day because it was like seeing Grandpa's hands moving, drinking coffee, making a sandwich.
I may be losing my potatoes, planted on Good Friday, 24 holes, shovel dipped into dirt, the right, top side of it worn shiny from the boot stepping down, tossing the potato seed (2 eyes each) in and covering them quickly--they may not make it. Symptoms: Yellow leaf, obvious holes in leaves, signs of ants (ants are good for the garden, but if you see them, you may have another type of bug problem--carnivorous soldiers hunting aphids' sticky honeydew.)
You may hold a wish in the ground for many months, and this might be the way it ends. But I have the luxury of balance, the kind that says I should expect some take if I also ask for some give. We are all in this together: the aphids, and ants and potatoes, the planter and Grower.
Zucchini intruding everywhere and the sweet peas cling to the fence, and everyday, I walk the perimeter of the patch growing, kicking them back and teaching them about where they are allowed to go because there are tiny, fragile things growing that can't understand the loud, large leaf they are hiding under.
You, red bug, are not a lady, longer torso, and I'm sorry that I found you eating basil because despite the balance, I am not afraid to pinch. This is something I've had to learn, not out of a hatred of beetles, but for the love of basil. I can deny that there are things that would harm us, turn my head, my heart, but this won't prepare me for when I face them. And we do face them.
Broken stem. Lifeline snapped as the gardener forces you into the cage. I forgot to check each day as they grew, helping them stay within the wires that will become the spines they stand so tall upon. All those I've hurt but didn't mean to hurt.
Curled leaf. An obvious symptom of something I can't identify. Introverted. Protective. I will just wait for you to tell me.
Milkweed. Technically a weed. Beautiful. Monarch. Lining the irrigation ditches in Colorado, collecting the brown and yellow caterpillar that would prove I too could become new, unrecognizable, full of flight. I let them grow. Of course, I do.
Despite the zucchini's persistence, I still love it. Strong vine pushing life everywhere it can.
You are looking at a pickle, a very small pickle. Something hit me tonight. It will sound so silly when I say it out loud: God loves cute. Just look in your heart. You can feel it there, too. I know you can. You will want to protect this small thing. You will want it to live. You will want to see it do everything it was meant to do.