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Spirituality in the Garden

by Sandra Paulson

Before I got married, I never gardened. As a kid, I had a brief flirtation with wanting my own garden (I was probably about 8 years old) and I remember my mom letting me pick the seeds, plant them, and tend them. She pointed out that I would have to pick the taller plants for the back row, the medium plants for the middle row, and the shorter ones for the front row, which I did. Then I prepared the soil and planted the three different kinds of seeds.

I remember my joy when they came up and the flowers bloomed—I created that all by myself! (Or so I thought.) But of course the tending part wasn’t quite as appealing as the creation part, and I don’t recall spending much time communing with my little garden the rest of that summer.

But 15 years ago, my new husband and I decided that we really wanted to learn to make and can our own salsa. My mother and my aunt couldn’t understand “why in the WORLD we would WANT to can.” They, of course, had spent weeks and months canning on the farm where they grew up—shelling peas for days on end, sitting under the shade trees in the yard. The bloom was definitely off the rose as far as they were concerned—it was store-bought canned goods for them once they became adults in charge of their own agendas.

But sometimes ignorance is the best motivator. We wanted to make and can our own salsa, so we started a vegetable garden. It wasn’t the gardening we were interested in—it was the salsa. The garden started out small—mostly tomatoes and peppers with a few carrots and green beans thrown in. We needed help from my brother-in-law to plant our garden since we had never done it.

And, just as when I was a child, the novelty wore off as the weeds grew (and grew and grew). But the next year we planted another vegetable garden, having learned a few things in the process: Weeding is much easier if you do it frequently instead of leaving it for weeks and weeks.

Sandra Paulson gardens in Moorhead, Minn., where she lives with her husband and daughter. She works at Concordia College and writes a gardening blog (thedirt.areavoices.com) in her spare time.

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