Why are Relationships Like Gardens?
I was having a conversation with someone important to me in my life today. I was talking about relationships and how they are like gardens.
You see when I was a little boy we had a big garden in the backyard. It was something my mother did as a child with her dad and she wanted us to have a garden too. (not to mention they were feeding 4 kids on one salary from a baptist high school, which isn’t much). When we bought our new house one of the first things my mom had my dad do was go out in the BIG backyard and stake out where the garden would be.
I love this time as a kid because my Dad being the teacher that he is always turned it into a lesson. We learned about the type of dirt my parents have in their backyard (mostly clay) and that our house was built on what obviously used to be a creek bed because all of the rocks that were coming out of the ground, HUNDREDS AND EVEN THOUSANDS, were rounded by years of water tumbling them down the stream.
We staked out the garden and tilled the ground. We added manure and sand to the soil to get the mix right. We watered and weeded and fertilized to prep the soil to get it black and full of nutrients. It takes time to build the base before you start to try to grow anything in the soil. You wont grow anything unless you grow yourself first.
After the soil was just right we went out and picked what we wanted to grow. Carrots, Cucumbers, Onions, Radishes, Tomatoes, cherry and beefsteak. We made little rows with our hands to get everything ready. We picked out which food we wanted to grow in each place row and planted the seeds.
The next day I can clearly remember wanting to go outside and see what had grown. I was six and had no concept of time so I assumed that since we had done so much work it would happen right away, we would have amazing vegetables and fruits. I also remember being laughed at by my siblings. Relationships can’t happen the next day. If you get food that grows in an unhealthy amount of time, I bet it won’t last and be nutritious. Neither will your friendships.
I then started to resent the garden, It became a chore because the magic hadn’t happened yet. All we were doing was watering this fucking patch of dirt and picking out goddamn weeds. You know how much I hate weeds, still to this day weeding a garden makes me gnash my teeth. Ask my mom. We got assigned jobs with the garden, Steve and Katie being the oldest had to do harder work like picking out more rocks and carrying big heavy bags of dirt and fertilizer, and I had to pick out weeds. It taught me that gardening isn’t all fun and games, It is hard work sometimes and there are going to be things that you don’t like about it. I bet you know where I am going with this one. Friendships and relationships aren’t always easy either.
I only have one story, maybe two, to draw from here of a real long lasting relationship. That is my parents (and for a shorter period my Brother and Sister in Law). They raised 4 semi-adjusted, reasonably functional adults, depending on the day you ask them. Were there times they had to pick weeds out of us. Yup. Like when your son in grade 3 has 170+ plus detentions in a year and there are only about 190 days of school (thanks mom and dad for not killing me), or getting a call that one of your kids are with the police because they took candy from the store (Anonymity will apply, you’re safe sibling dearest). The thing is their little vegetables (haha) were important to them so they woke up each day and made sure we had food and water and love. Every living organism needs that if we as humans decided we want to cultivate that. If you think you aren’t cultivating your friends and spouses and kids, trust me you are.
Finally after a lot of work, going out to the garden day after day, I started seeing carrot tops (not the scary muscle bound magician kind), little yellow flowers on the tomato plants and tiny little cucumbers snaking their way across the ground. I WANTED TO EAT THEM RIGHT THEN, but they weren’t ready. I had to learn again about waiting. Have you ever tried green tomatoes, or white raspberries? I don’t personally like unripe fruit. So I had to wait more,
Then one day we watered, and then a huge rainstorm came. (bet you thought this was when I was gonna have success). Our whole garden got flooded, and we lost top soil, and stuff in the ground got too wet and it rotted. Are you fucking kidding me? You can have too much water? Yup. You can drown things that you love with too much of a good thing. That lesson SUCKED. Be cautious what you do in relationships, you can quickly hurt people if you don’t know what they need and offer the wrong thing too many times.
My parents didn’t get mad (well my dad might have had some choice words, I can’t remember) but on the next Saturday we all had to go back out here and make things ready for planting again. some stuff survived but others were ruined. We just turned the soil and started over. It can happen like that in relationships too. Far too many times I have made a mess (and still do) and have had to suck up my pride and ego and try to make things right again. It’s hard, but it is worth it as you will see in a second.
Okay, we tilled the ground, laid the top soil, got manure, new seeds and worked for weeks. AND WE GOT FOOD. you know how much better it tastes than a tomato grown in mexico till it is green, and then picked unripe and sprayed with gases and left to ripen in a truck? Pop some fresh cherry tomatoes in your mouth right off a vine and you will see.
Growing food and relationships the right way will make you much happier.
I didn’t say anything ground breaking here, I bet you already knew all of what I typed out, but I felt good for me to write it. Relive some awesome times with my family, and remind myself that if we keep tending to our relationships by actually making an effort and going to see people FACE TO FACE or at the very least voice to voice (if you’re far away like I am from a lot of my family and friends) you can make some awesome food, and friendships. And we all know where every single party ends up no matter how hard you try, in the kitchen where food and relationships come together.
Thanks for reading, I hope I didn’t bore you for too long.