Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Hoping for a new normal ~ my column from the weekend paper

Jilda and I have planted a garden every year since we married in 1974. Some years it was only a row of sunflowers and a few tomato plants. This year we have the biggest garden we've ever had. There is no tomato on earth better than the ones grown in your own backyard. But having a garden takes commitment. The sheltering in place this year has given us time.

Early in March, we doubled the number of blueberry bushes in our orchard. I wasn't sure the new plants would live. I certainly didn't expect them to have berries the first year. I stand corrected. All but one of them lived. Most of them have berries. We’ve wanted to plant more bushes for years, but I could never find the time.

In early April, I had the good fortune to interview Richard Ford, a professional gardener who lives near Parrish and grows food commercially. In about an hour, Mr. Ford taught me about raised-bed gardening and the best way to grow more food organically.

A few days after the interview, I took the time to build several new raised beds. Today as I sit on the back deck typing these words, I can see our tomatoes swaying in the breeze. They are almost waist high and full of blooms. The peppers, radishes, zucchini, and squash are thriving too.

Mr. Ford also shared the name of one of his seed vendors. We had to fill out an application before they would send us a catalog. It was worth the extra effort because the company offers a much wider variety of seeds than the places we've used in the past.

We planted watermelon, sweet potatoes, and strawberries this week. All of them look happy.

Spending so much time outside has been a gift. The sky has been incredible. In the past, when I looked into the sky, there were planes with cotton contrails flying in every direction. In the last few months, it has been rare to see or hear a plane.

This downtime has also given us more time for walking. Yesterday, I heard our new critter, Kodak barking. He seemed to be really interested in something in the tall grass. When I walked over, I saw that he was trying to get a Box Turtle to play with him. The turtle wasn't having any part of it. He retreated into his shell.

Jilda coaxed Kodak away with one of the treats she carries in her pocket. A second later, the mutt had forgotten all about the turtle and was chasing a butterfly.

I reached down into the grass and gently picked the turtle up and carried it to the edge of the woods. On the way back to join up with Jilda, I found a second turtle a few feet away. I think they may have been courting. I carried the second turtle up and released it beside the first one.

It seems like things will be moving back towards normal in the coming weeks, but I feel that "normal" will be different.

Personally, it is my hope that the new normal gives me enough time to do the things in life that give me joy.

This picture is from last year. Our sunflowers this year are almost waist high. 


  1. Hoo Who and happy dances.
    And here's to a greener new normal. For you, for me, for the world.

  2. Very good article, am sure it will resonate with your readers. Good stuff, and I do like the contrast in color with that sunflower.
    The best to y'all and stay safe...
    Sherry & jack

  3. You are going to have enough produce to last until next year's harvest. That's not counting all you will give away.

  4. I think you have to create your own new normal.


  5. What is normal?
    It is different for everyone.............
    You give away a lot because that is who you are...........
    Amazing, caring and kind


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