Contributed by OKWB blogger Michelle Ferguson
Successful Oklahoma gardening has been a long time aspiration.
Last year, I thought I had it made. I planted a tomato twig—a tiny, slightly leafy, innocent seedling—and promptly forgot about it. Thankfully, a wet, semi-cool summer nurtured my forgotten’s growth, and three months later I happened by the garden and saw a fully ripened, ready-to-eat, ruby red tomato.
As I pulled the beauty from its stem, I proclaimed, “Oh, lookee what I grew!”
and set the fruit upon the counter to proudly display it until ingestion… but forgot about it again until I found the moldy mess and threw it, the season’s entire crop, into the trash can.
“This year I will do better!” I aver. (I’ve spent the winter reading literary fiction. My gardening skills may not have improved, but my vocabulary is stellar.) For six months, I have impatiently awaited the budding of Spring.
Winter has been cold, bitter, darn chilly, and the fireplace has roared non-stop. So Thursday evening, when I heard from the local weather dude that the weekend was to be sunny and in the sixties, I made a list! A long list! Of “to do things” and “to dig things” and “to mulch things,” and awaited my weekend of Warrior Gardening.
Perhaps you should know that I live in the “Out There” of Oklahoma. Sure, it’s semi-close to the City—only about twelve, fifteen miles, as crows fly, they say—but it seems further. Incredulous friends would ask, “You’re moving ‘Out There’?!”
And I always responded, “Oh, silly, it’s not that far.”
But it is, it is far, and here’s why: the Out There, from the City, is a straight shot, no stops, and still a person must travel at least thirty minutes to get all the way Out There and pull into my prairie drive.
So, yeah, that’s far.
Oh, and the prairie has no trees. Tornadoes took most of them, and the others are anemic and sad, leaning to the north because of the brutality of the Oklahoma wind.
After dreams of successful tilling and soil amendments, my geeky gardening self woke Saturday morning primed and ready to trowel the earth! But the mighty Oklahoma winds told me a different story. As they whipped across the treeless plains, trees that should have at least slowed it down, at forty-plus miles per hour, the cruel zephyrs announced, “Nope. You’re stayin’ inside. Sorry.”
With tears in my eyes, with my list crushed within my palm, I stood at the window and watched my hopes diminish and fly away on maniacally laughing gusts that waved as they passed.
I played a lot of Xbox-360 on Saturday. My son was thrilled.
With renewed vigor and buoyed hopes, I woke Sunday, ironed my wrinkled list with my hands, and ran to the window to see a rerun of Pampas grass blown to forty-five degree angles as the evil winds shoved it over.
More Xbox. Even my son was getting tired of it.
So along came Monday, a holiday from work and school, and I didn’t bother going to the window. Instead, I let the dog out for morning rituals and do you know, not a hair of his head was stirring? No breeze, no whisper, no hint of further annihilation of my gardening hopes.
I was so excited that I grabbed my handy trowel and my nearly-obliterated to do list and ran into the garden wearing my favorite sleepy-time cashmere socks and my fluffy slippers. I dug for twenty minutes before realizing it and wasted another five changing into proper gardening casual attire.
As dirt flew and madness welled under visions of the bounty I shall grow and share this coming year, I anticipated a resurgence of wind. Though the world was still, I knew the breezes would return; I felt in my filthy fingertips that I was toiling on borrowed time.
For four hours, I worked, staying ahead of incoming gusts. I kept a frenetic pace I could not maintain for long.
I had forgotten that planting and harvesting is a marathon, not a sprint.
A small bell rang in my head during hour number five as my right hand opened involuntarily. The shovel dropped.
I quit. Turning my head upward to soak in harmful but pleasant radiant beams, I allowed myself to stop.
My labors were over, and while one side of my brain screamed, “What are you doing? This is our time! It’s NOW! We must work…pick up that shovel!”, the other side whispered, “Oh, thank you, cramping hands, for dropping that tremendously heavy tiny Barbie shovel.”
Worst part: after all that work, no one would know I did a thing. It’s not obvious. I’d have to point it all out, and if you have to point out your efforts, well, that’s sad.
Tomorrow I return to my job. Weather is supposed to return to winter temps, leaving me to again wait for my opening to get back out there and show the garden who’s boss.
I hope it lets me win.
Michelle Ferguson blogs at Worth All The While and lives and works as a public librarian in Piedmont, Oklahoma, home of coyotes, stray dogs and various wildlife that startle her in the dark of night. I have a young son I call Bubs, and together we ride the prairie in our Mighty Taurus in search of adventure! Well, mostly he plays on the Kindle while I look for photo ops of cows and donkeys, the occasional sunset. It’s a good life.