Growing up, both our families had a backyard garden. My husband's parents' garden was considerably more substantial than my own parents', but nonetheless, by the time we were five, we both knew a carrot was a miracle that happened underground and that those frozen peas in December were a sorry substitute for what happens in June. In fact, gorging on the peas that were always planted by our woodpile is one of my earliest memories.
When we bought our first house, Lawnboy and I were smart enough to close on it in January, which left just (barely) enough time to dig up some of the grass in the lovely southern-exposed back yard, so we could get the babies in the ground by March and April. We learn as we go, and five years later, we can look back on our garden journal and have been able to improve on what we started. We are no longer "on a break" from our friends the Cabbage Family, we have finally figured out the mysteries of those delicate and delicious plants. We know to rotate everything, and we know that if the tomatoes have blossom end rot, they aren't getting enough calcium.
But why do we keep doing it?
Because sustaining our lives with some dirt and tiny seeds are the closest we could ever get to understanding the meaning of our existence. Because our kids deserve to know that potatoes don't come in mesh bags, and that while onions may rot, leeks are with us all year round. Because every time we watch a seed grow we're reminded of how miraculous and sacred life is. Not just the pumpkin, not our darling baby boys, not the soldiers everywhere, but ALL life. Because it is reassuring to know that we don't have to rely solely on the industrial economy to put food in our mouths. Because there will come a time when our children, or our children's children, might not have a choice in the matter. Because life is about the survival of genes. And we want ours to survive.