by Myfanwy Collins
I was nineteen, maybe twenty, and setting up house with my boyfriend as I worked my way through school, bartending at night, studying and going to class during the day. We lived in an old farmhouse on a corner. When we looked to the south, we saw the mountains, to the west a pine forest, to the north a dirt road bordered by a field and a forest, and to the east our land—yielding a view of a garage (once a barn) and the grazing land of the sheep farmer next door. We tilled the soil back behind the garage. We didn’t even test it, didn’t need to. In this place, things always grew.
Our plot measured 20 by 50 feet. Maybe we bit off more than we could chew. But I was resolute. I wanted this garden. I would do it all myself if I had to.
We created raised beds because my boyfriend told me they were easier to weed. You just hoe in between the rows, he said. We planted everything we could think of—sunflowers, lettuce, radishes, carrots, dill, beans, squash, and tomatoes.
As the seeds gestated in their tidy beds, I hadn’t realized what I would feel—my heart. The seeds broke apart, reaching tiny fingers through the soil, hungry for light and moisture. These babies grew and, despite the weather, the black flies, and the mosquitoes, I worked in the garden every day, tending, weeding, watering, picking, plucking. As the plants grew, I realized that I could sustain life.