A Box of Broken Plates


This time of year I avoid the gardens. I avoid them because I am ashamed. The same way I am ashamed of that pile of dishes by the sink. Instead of doing them I just try not to look at them whenever I go into the kitchen. But it’s not quite the same. It would be akin to trying to do the dishes if for a week straight it were 100 degrees in my kitchen. Who wants that? No one. Not me. So instead I let the dishes pile up and wait for cooler days. And cooler days come. And still I stare at them. I wash some, but I ignore the rest. Because soon it will be time to throw the dishes away (and this is where my metaphor has reached its useful conclusion because I don’t throw my dishes away. Ever. Even if they are broken. Because someday I think I will collect them all and make a mosaic. But really they will just sit in a box in my closet and I will find them once a year when I am looking for potting soil or lace doilies and I will remember that mosaic. But I won’t make it because I don’t have enough broken dishes. Yet).


Soon it will be time to throw the dishes away; i.e., it will be time to put the gardens to sleep. Rip out all of their contents in preparation for spring, ultimately. And the cycle will continue. Winter will be filled with yearning. Spring will be filled with hope and anticipation and lovely cool days digging my hands into the dirt. Summer will come too quickly and cover that yielding, fertile ground with plants, and weeds, both wanted and unwanted. The thermometer will creep steadily higher. The plants will take on lives of their own no matter how I tried to train them. And I will let go and allow nature to do its thing. Its inevitable, messy thing. Its horribly embarrassing thing that is just growth, but growth in a way that tends to embarrass those of us who attempt to tame nature. Nature is not a thing that is easily tamed. It is like a wild animal. You try to bring it into the house with you and it just rips up all of your furniture, pees on all of the carpets, and destroys all of your belongings, including your plates, but then, at least, you can finally make that mosaic you’d always dreamed of. There’s an upside to everything. Everything I own is ruined, but I get to spend hours making a mosaic. Life is good.


Every year while I am picking dry beans in the burning hot sun before an impending rain storm threatens to germinate all of my future food and seed stock, I think to myself “I am SO done with this.” And somehow, every year, I find myself with bushels filled with dry bean pods ready for shelling. How come we are tricked year after year into propagating these plants? Why are we fooled into continuing their cycle of sweet green nascent growth, followed by ugly brown shriveled death? What is it about these seeds, these stems, these leaves, these stamen, that get me every time?

I suppose, I am an optimist.
I suppose, I have a difficult time giving up on anything.

One thought on “A Box of Broken Plates

  1. You are not alone 🙂 I too was swallowed by the force of nature. (some of my weeds are as tall as I am… at least they have pretty flowers.) I planted 3 rows of beans and was almost buried in them. And I REALLY went overboard with the tomatoes. I hadn’t gotten to have a garden in about 3 years so… I don’t feel so bad now that I know I’m not the only one that turns a blind eye at the end of the season 🙂

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