I planted my garden on Sunday. In two 8×4 raised beds, I planted tomatoes, banana peppers, carrots, zucchini, and green beans. I also planted shelling peas and lettuce at the back of the house. It was fun to get my hands in the dirt, to bury the seeds that will die to bring life to me and my friends.
The lure of land and the opportunity to grow my own food was part of the early longing, back five years ago, that led me to purchase my own place. At the time, I was living in an apartment where I was in charge of about six square feet in which to plant whatever I wanted. It had been an improvement over the balcony in my apartment before that, but it still left me wanting.
Surely it was some romanticized, American view of land that made me want a little piece of it. But somehow, I imagined my life would be remarkably better if I just had a place to scratch in the dirt a little, a place to live off of if times got tough. And when I bought my house and its .44 acre parcel, I even wondered what it would be like to hand down a home to another generation.
It was no surprise then, with a For Sale sign in the yard while I hoed on Sunday, that I felt a little like I was betraying the very land I was tilling.
But is that what it means to feel connected to a place? Does God only give us wide open spaces that we can fence in and lay claim to?
On Wednesday, Fellow High Calling editor, David Rupert
, wrote about Mrs. Johnson and her white bathrobe and homemade pickles who lived in the same house for more than 60 years
. He recalled his old neighbor who knew every flower on her property as he was considering whether he should sell his own house.
Who among us grows, marries, raises children and dies in the same place? I’ve missed out on the first half of my life, moving nearly 15 times. But the second half holds out a promise of better days, of new love, of children laughing, of flowers that bloom every year, and a new 25-year roof that one day I will need to replace.
Just last week, when I wrote about my ambivalence in selling my own house
, David commented about taking his house off the market after it had been for sale for a short time. One day, he just called his realtor and told him to take the sign down, he said.
Sunday, when I was nearly finished patting down the carrot seeds and watering the spindly pepper plants, a car pulled in the driveway. It was a woman inquiring about the sign in the yard.
“This looks like a nice place,” she said.
“Oh yeah, it really is,” I told her. Then feeling like I needed to explain myself, I said, “I live here by myself though, and it’s a lot to take care of.”
“Oh yeah, I see that,” she said, though I later learned she was single herself and would be buying a house alone.
As I pointed out the trees and the landscaping and as we walked around back to look at the patio with the flowers I had potted myself, I tried to look at this little place as a stranger would. I tried to see it objectively.
She asked about the roof: “It was replaced when I moved in; it’s only four and a half years old,” I told her. She wondered about the utilities: “I’m on a budget plan for the gas; electricity varies by season,” I said, offering the most specific figures I could remember.
Then, I remembered what I had been doing when she pulled up, realizing that I was wearing part of the land I was trying to sell. I wiped away some of the dirt and sweat from my face, apologizing.
“Sorry about the way I look,” I said. “I was just out here working.”
“Oh that’s ok, you weren’t expecting me,” she offered back kindly.
As she was leaving, I made sure she had a flyer my realtor had put together, and I pointed at the raised beds where I had been kneeling when she pulled in.
“The house comes with a garden, too, already planted!” I said.
We both chuckled and she left.
Photo from the Library of Congress. No permission needed.
Join me for regular jaunts around The High Calling network, randomly visiting fellow bloggers, soaking up their words and ideas, and then coming back here to write about them from my perspective.
Each Thursday, consider going “There and Back Again” yourself. It’s simple.