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July 16 • 08:36 AM
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June 19, 2019
It's been a humdinger spring for earthworms and happy, fat robins. The food chain makes exceptional entertainment—birdsong, morning, noon, and night.

While I fill buckets with compost, the red-breasted carnivores wait, bob here and there for their fair share of worms. "There's plenty to go around," I remind Mamma Robin.

Wherever my shovel travels, they follow. Robins know something tasty grows within decomposing leaves, lavender stems, and kitchen scraps.

They flit to our deer proof fence surrounding our vegetable garden and perch on a post; keep their beady black eyes on my buckets heavy with good health. Those birds anticipate a worm as I do a scoop of ice cream at day's end.

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What a miraculous partnership. Earthworms and beneficial nematodes produce nutrients to amend our gardens. The food we don't consume or give away becomes compost to grow more food and flowers.

Grow. A fertile word.

It is a pleasure and privilege to own this land while I walk and breathe on this planet. That I own and hold a shovel to cultivate the earth humbles me with praise and thanksgiving.

To grow into a grower, to plant seeds and observe them germinate and sprout into green leaves is pure joy. There's virtue to gain in the process: patience for sunny days to dry low spots, for one. Dealing with damping off, for another.

Plant and replant is a grower's mantra.

Of all the avocations in this modern world, tiller of the earth most satisfies my body, soul and spirit. Whatever I nurture, nurtures me.

A bouquet of peonies. Fresh greens with vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.

I attribute this relationship to my granny and mother. My grandmother devoted a lifetime of growing seasons to feed her family and neighbors. She grieved when she could no longer set a mess of pole beans and platter of roastin' ears on her table.

The last summer my family saw Granny on her feet, she said, "I'm sorry, but I can't cook for y'all."

Although I've never learned to plant by the stars and moon as Granny did, to see an earthworm and green shoot is good enough success for me. I feel like her and my mother when I fill my freezer with another harvest.

Mom left her freezer packed with plastic bags of pie apples. Dementia put an end to the most delicious fruit pie I've ever tasted. Gladly, Mom lived to see my shovel break ground for food.

Dear Reader, my ancestors' affection for God's good Earth grows within me. If genetics have their way, I'll most likely mourn when I can no longer cook and serve those I love and hold dear.

And when the Lord calls me to Heaven, my spirit will fly to His bosom. Below, the sexton will turn the soil and bury my terrestrial remains. Robins will feast upon earthworms.

In time, my pine coffin and flesh will decompose as kinfolk of old. Again, I will feed the food chain. Robins will grow and sing.

Email Iris at irisleeu@sbcglobal.net.

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