Mary, Mary, quite contrary

Yeah, that’s me … contrary, right?

Except for one thing: I have a garden.

Me. City girl. Couldn’t wait to get out of a small town to live in an apartment and experience all that a big city could offer.

Lights! Busy! Excitement!

Then I got a dog. And life started to calm down.

Then I met a guy. And I started to think about a home.

A small-town farm girl

My mom never ceases to be surprised how I change over the years.

rose garden
Me and my mother’s roses. I probably got in trouble for picking one.

I grew up in small-town Nova Scotia. My childhood home sits on an (almost) acre of land and, in traditional Maritime-style, it is next to my father’s childhood home.

My mother was determined to make the property her own. She transplanted spruce and willow trees from the wild woods behind our home, payingenslaving us as child labour to help. She had a garden that teemed with rhubarb, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and more.

For probably the first 12 years of my life, I had no idea people ate store-bought pickles and berry jam. Every late summer, Mom spent hours — no, days — boiling vegetables and berries (not together) and topping each jar with a healthy dose of wax.

We had bread and butter pickles, mustard pickles, dill pickles and pickled beets. Strawberry jam, blueberry jam, raspberry jam, blackberry jam. She even preserved crab apples.

And they were all tucked away on a curtained shelf in the cold basement.

Help me, Mommy!

Much to her chagrin, I have seldom required my mother’s advice since reaching adulthood. (Of course, I estimate that hurdle took place some time around 35.)

However, I have been hammering her with questions since March. That’s when My American and I spent a weekend building two raised garden boxes for the backyard.

garden boxes
Bella helps building the garden boxes.
garden boxes
All filled with soil and ready for planting.

How soon should I put my starters out? What if it still frosts? Should I plant certain things next to each other? How much space in between each seedling?

seedlings in a garden box
The first seedlings are planted and growing.

Augh … I was relentless.

When I finally got everything planted and sent a picture, she said I didn’t need to ask her any more questions. She was setting me free into the great world of gardening.

Fly like a bird, she said.

Not really. It was probably more like “piss off, brat, you’re annoying me.”

In any case, today I have my squash plants are blossoming. I planted too much cilantro at once and they’re flowering, soon to turn to seed. My tomatillos are a lot taller than I thought they would be. My pea vines are snaking around other plants and latching on.

We’re eating dinner salads with fresh lettuce. And using fresh basil for … well … almost everything. Then there’s the kale and chard that I saute in so much butter Paula Deen would be proud.

Do you know what that green stuff is? Chard. From MY garden. #gardening

A photo posted by Angela Schneider (@thatangela) on

I can’t wait to have tomatoes and cucumbers and green beans and zucchini and butternut squash and … and …

A time to play

Gardening was a hobby I wanted to pick up while I was prevented from working by the U.S. government.

It gave me goals with real, tangible (i.e. edible) achievements.

It’s been relaxing. It’s given me a chance to play in the dirt.

Like reading, it takes my mind off the stress of Green Card reviews and not contributing to the household income.

Now I’m allowed to work. Now I can set forth into the latest, greatest job search, that always terrifying, self-esteem bruising territory.

My garden won’t be neglected when the job search becomes successful. Instead, I’m making notes on how to improve it next year … nay, expand it by taking over that corner in the backyard and better planning. (I did NOT know the squash plants needed so much room.)

kale lettuce
All grown up. My garden … not me.

The ease and serenity I’ve found in gardening surprises not just my mother. It shocks the hell out of me, too.

I’m a city girl gone mad with two green thumbs.

And it sucks the contrary right out of me.


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