Sometimes I hate August gardening. Or so I say to myself as I pick my way through humid, wet, over-grown tomato plants that tangle with wild morning glory vines. Those crazy vines grow so fast, and twist around and around every vertical stalk or post or fence, through the other leaves, around the other plants, an agony of overgrowth. They scramble my view of any harvest. What harvest? That is what I am out here looking for, after all. Last month I wrote of heat, but this month of outrageous amounts of rain has seen barely enough sun and heat to turn my fat tomatoes red, or my green peppers into green peppers. Ugh. Will there really be NO HARVEST?
But I know this feeling from of old. I remember how just when I am are ready to say “After all that work?? Is everything sick and dying?! I quit!” that the plants seem to groan, “Okay, okay” and searching around under those piles of messy, mottled, chewed on, sprawling leaves (and scrambling vines, damn them) yields ripe tomatoes! Green beans! and peppers that you didn’t see at all at first. Suddenly, sure enough, I can bring in supper from our own yard.
But this August is a little different. This last week of August, my harvest included some unexpected and unwanted tubers. I did not plant these ones – at least not on purpose. These tubers are in fact breast cancers, growing in the soil of my body along with everything else.
To be seeded with spores and growing a harvest of cancer should not really be a surprise for me . Both my mother and my great-aunt fought this same weed of the body. But the mind can play tricks. My cerebral cortex just did not really believe that I would get cancer. Why? Because it would be too obvious? Because I grow and eat a lot of veggies? Because my role as the mother of a special needs young man would protect me? Superstition made me immune. Only, it didn’t. And as surely as the morning glories run wild all over my gardens every summer, my body has been growing a useless and invasive crop.
As Edward and I gather in the green beans from the poles this week and watch the acorn squash mature, I am also gathering my energies, preparing to be weeded, and to wrestle out the roots of disease. I am making better habits, getting rest, eating well, stretching and working my muscles. I am reading, educating myself to know my enemy, just as I have poured over pages on plant diseases during other troubled harvest times, trying to plan my attack on marauding viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Will it be chop, or burn, or poison? I favor chopping this time — less toxic, and perhaps more permanent. I will consider all my options. As Edward and I worked through the garden beds over the weekend it was satisfying to rip down useless vine off fences and out of netting, wrench roots from the soil, and watch the liberated plants shake free and breathe. I will think of that as I am healing.
But there is still more to the Simons garden harvests this August — can you believe it? What a rich month we are having!
The most superior harvest for our family was expected in September – but could not wait. And so in the last week of Augyst she was coaxed from her mother tree, and out into her father’s arms. Four pounds four ounces of pure sweetness. Baby Marlee Faryn Simons was born a wee bit early. Edward and I are grandparents, and before too many more days we will fly into September in the Rockie Mountains, leaving Maryland far behind. For a little while at least.