There have been a lot of times when I sat down to blog and felt like starting with, “I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posting anything to this space.” Mostly that seemed like a lame beginning, an excuse, and my friend Amy taught me a long time ago that you shouldn’t live your life apologizing, so I usually don’t start that way. But today it seems apt, since one of the primary reasons I haven’t written here in a few weeks is related to what I plan to write about – gardening. Before I moved into this house I never would have identified myself as a gardener. In fact, I routinely joked about having a black thumb and couldn’t keep a houseplant happy. But these days, it is one of my primary pastimes. Over the past few years I have removed a sizeable percentage of the sod in our yard to make way for new vegetable and perennial beds. I don’t feel quite like a member of the Food Not Lawns movement yet, but I aspire to that title. I’ve updated my Facebook status to complain about incorrect weather forecasts and the lack of rain 3 times in the past 5 days. I have spent too much of my last few paychecks at the garden center – even found myself wondering why’s there’s no pre-tax savings plan, modeled after health savings accounts, for landscaping and other environment-enhancing endeavors.
So, I can totally identify with Liam, the main character of The Curious Garden (Brown, 2009). Liam lives in a dreary city where nothing green grows. One day he makes his way up to an abandoned train track and finds a small patch of fertile ground. He tends it back to health and watches it spread over the tracks until it reaches into every corner of the city. People living nearby get a taste for living amongst the plants and flowers and eventually the city is covered – from the tippie-tops of skyscappers to the cracks in the sidewalks – with mosses, flowers, bushes, and trees. We learn from the dust jacket that Liam’s garden is in fact the New York City High Line, a model for urban public gradening clubs worldwide.
My yard isn’t the high line, but over the years I have not only learned to take care of the plants that were here when I arrived, all planted by my husband’s grandparents who lived here before us. I’ve divided and moved them around the yard, spreading them into places previously occupied by less than vibrant grass and weeds. I’ve added new plants, many given to me by friends and neighbors, each with its own story to tell. And then there are new edible bushes and vines – blackberries, blueberries, and grapes – each bearing more and more sweet fruit each year. Every corner of the yard is now blooming – which means there is a lot for me to do this time of year. I haven’t been blogging, but I’ve been busy painting the world around me with soil and seeds.
Here are a few other picturebooks inspired by spring that you might enjoy: