I’d like to say that I had a hand in growing these strawberries. But I did not.
I bought the plants and brought them to the community garden where they would sink their roots into rich river silt and raise their heads to the warm Delta sun. I toted new coils of watering tubes and connectors, purchased at Lowe’s in Lodi upon instruction from the young folks. But I did not dig the soil, or tend to the shoots as they unfurled. I did not pull the weeds or wrap cloth around the tender fruit to save them from the curious critters.
Nor did I stake the peppers, or the tomatoes. I did not walk down to the end of the meadow to start the water of an evening or early in the morning before the heat of the day. I did some of that last year. But as the seasons turned, my body grew weaker. I had to parse my energy. Eight hours a day for work; so much each week for shopping; another ration for chores; and the last measure for dragging myself to the medical folks whose supposed brilliance could heal me.
So, I did not till the garden; or keep it free from pests; or curb the wild onions that threaten to over-choke the beans. Jessie did; and her partner Ken; and Sarah; and Louis, with his husband Helix; and a few others — Derek, Kelly, Kimberly, Laurie. And God, if it comes to that; and the gentle winds which keep the fierceness of the sun in the deepest part of summer from doing too much damage.
When I came home from the community dinner tonight, a long row of fruit and vegetables had been laid upon the railing of my porch. The garden fairy had come calling. A smile rose to my face. The tension of a difficult day eased itself from my small shoulders and slipped into the dusk. I took a basket down, gathered the bounty, and went into the house.
It’s the twentieth day of the sixty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.