I’m approaching the one-year mark of my retirement, and I’m about to do something I’ve never done before: plant a garden. However, before I explain my lack of gardening experience and also my current desire to grow vegetables, let me tell you about my one and only harvesting adventure.
During the early 1970s, when electric and battery-powered Weed Eaters first became available, my sisters and I decided to buy one for my dad who grew up with a garden in his back yard and who enjoyed having a small garden himself. During the late summer when he came home from work, he loved pulling fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from that garden, cutting them up, and serving them with just a touch of vinegar and olive oil. I, too, enjoyed eating them, but I was never involved in the growing or the harvesting. Nor was I ever involved in the weeding until that fateful day when I used the Weed Eater for the first time.
The Weed Eater was actually a Father’s Day gift, and since I was home from college and hadn’t yet found a summer job, my dad gave me one.
“Why don’t you try out that Weed Eater tomorrow, and clean up my garden,” Dad said to me before he went to bed that night.
Since cutting the grass with a push lawnmower had always been one of my regular chores, I figured using a machine with actual electric power would be a piece of cake. “Sure, Dad. No problem,” I responded.
So the next morning before it got too hot, I pulled the Weed Eater out of its box, quickly scanned the directions, found a long extension cord, and began my task. Without having to get on my knees, I destroyed every weed on our property, not just those in the garden but every single weed I saw in the back yard, the front yard, and even the small strip along the side of the house. I loved that new machine, and I was so proud of my work. I couldn’t wait for Dad to see what a great job I had done.
So that evening about 5:30 when Dad normally arrived home from work, I sat in the living room awaiting his arrival — and, of course, his compliments. As I knew he would, Dad inspected my work even before he entered the house. Then, my dad, who was normally very soft spoken, barged in the back door, and yelled immediately, “Where is he?”
Not a good sign.
“Hi, Dad. I’m right here. What’s up?”
“What did you do to my peppers?”
“Peppers? What peppers?”
Apparently, in my thorough quest to destroy every weed on our property, I accidentally also destroyed Dad’s pepper plants. “Where were they,” I asked, totally unaware that my dad had planted peppers for the first time that summer.
“Right next to the tomatoes and the cucumbers.”
“I am so sorry,” I confessed immediately. “What can I do?”
“Don’t ever go near my garden with that Weed Eater again.”
And believe me, I did not.
So now, almost 50 years later, for some strange reason, I, too, long to grow vegetables, vegetables that I can pull from my own garden and enjoy with our evening meal. I think I long to personally experience for the first time that same joy that all gardeners feel and that my dad felt when he ate his fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with just a bit of vinegar and olive oil. I think I’ll pass on the peppers, though.