The old tin can is back on the small table by the front door full of little garden gourds and other garden remnants found underneath weeds and overgrown plants with sprawling vines. As Christmas nears, the old tin can will hold gingerbread men fresh from the oven; some still steaked with flour and all without decorations or faces. They will remain in the old tin can through February.
Many of those little garden gourds and other garden remnants were discovered by a six-year-old. Most every time he visited this past summer, he’d run out the back door to the garden to see what had grown since his last visit. One day he cleared a space between the carrots and zucchini and asked if he could plant something in his little garden. I found some leftover beet seeds in the garage. He was thrilled. Watching how gently he patted soil over the seeds, it was obvious he’d not only inherited the fishing gene, he’d inherited the gardening gene as well. When he was satisfied that the beet seeds were covered, he found rocks of all sizes and placed them around his little garden. Before he went back home, the little gardener asked me to water his beets whenever I watered the carrots and zucchini and the rest of the garden. I did as he requested but sadly deer would come along and step on them. I never told him. I’d salvage what little fledgling beets I could.
The small area designated by a circle of rocks between the carrots and zucchini never did produce beets of any size but the little gardener didn’t care. He was satisfied with the few sprouts that somehow survived the mighty hoofs of passing deer and the fact they were planted late in the season. That little gardener was proud of his sprouts. He’d sit beside them while digging for carrots, first with a small shovel and then, using his fingers, he’d dig around the carrot and pull. Sometimes the carrot would break in half but that didn’t stop him. He’d keep digging until he retrieved the entire carrot. When he felt he had enough carrots, he looked for zucchini hiding underneath oversized leaves resembling elephant ears when flapping in the breeze.
Even at such a young age, the little gardener understands it’s not really all about the produce plants bring forth. Rather, it’s about the process. It’s about the sun and the summer breeze and the rain and the bunnies hopping by and the weeds that need tending.
It’s about elephant-sized zucchini leaves flowing in the breeze, flapping with laughter, protecting fledgling little beet sprouts planted by a mighty proud little gardener and protected by rocks of all sizes.