So, I had made some arrangements to deliver to Lesley a whole bunch of tomatoes from the garden. And when I went to pick them up off the counter this morning, every single one of them was rotten. Like the mold had found them all at once and managed to seduce them as a crowd overnight. One burst when I touched it and almost instantly, small flies found it.
I went out to the garden, where I had not been in almost a week, relying on the kindness of family members to keep harvesting while I was sick. And it’s almost unrecognizable now. Everything is overgrown. Pumpkins stretch clear across the yard. The watermelons have made a pact with the cucumbers and the French Marigolds have completely overstepped their bounds. I should have known a person would never need 5,000 French Marigold seeds.
I felt bad, at first, about the tomatoes. Not that I couldn’t deliver them to Lesley, but that they’d gone bad, that they’d been wasted.
But it occurs to me that this is the wrong attitude to have to my sprawling, overgrown garden. To myself. To feel guilt over wasting food.
The garden is a luxury for me. An abundance. What I have on top of what I usually have.
To get all weirdly frugal about it now is kind of strange.
I think a lot about what it means that almost every culture that ascribes gender to the earth, understands the earth as female. And what it means for me, as a woman, to let the garden grow, to let things grown and come to fruition and pass to death while I learn something other than “I have wasted that.”
I used to think that it was important to be in right relation to the land, and that being in right relation was as a proper steward of the land, as one who establishes order and delineates uses and tends and cultivates. But, as always, the thing is to understand yourself as of the land, not on it.
Not that I know that thing in my bones. Yet.
I still understand myself as the one who establishes order out of chaos. The stick that beats a path. Not the hand that reaches for the spinning wheel.
Maybe that doesn’t make sense.
The other day I was, as one does, having drinks with my drinking buddy, mourning the end of our occasional respite, and celebrating that his orders have come in and he’s going home and he said, “I thought my luck had run out. I had a good bout of luck there for a while, but I thought it was over.”
And I smiled, because it always tickles me to hear an ostensibly Catholic Swede talk about luck in a way his ancestors would immediately understand.
And now I think, somethings, they stick with you, and other things, you relearn at the behest of your rotten tomatoes.