Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Jewel of the Garden

Two backyard planting beds,
A few half barrels,
And four fruit trees
Was all it took
To ignite her imagination.
“This year we’ll put up
Heirloom beans, crookneck squash,
Amaranth, garlic greens,
Rhubarb and zucchini (remember zucchini for future reference),”
She announced, setting cases of canning jars
On the kitchen counter.

She pored over web pages
Of native seeds,
Open-pollinated and bee-friendly.

She composed her garden in her head,
Much like her sonnets and haiku,
As if she could craft it
To end in so many syllables.

The plums came first:
Jams, first runny and then rock -solid.
Then the zucchini.
Remember the zucchini?
One or two or many more every day,
Until the neophyte farmer burst into tears.
So many zucchini and not much more.
Barely a purple bean or garlic green.
Frozen zucchini, shredded, pickled, wrapped in bacon.
Banish the word zucchini!

Who would think that this gardener
This permaculture wannabe, this homesteader on a mission —
Would end up delighting
In ornamental flowers?
“Rose of Sharon jelly,”  she read on a favorite blog.
Half-pint jars of delicate pink glaze.

She doubled down and harvested
The red and white hibiscus blooms,
As worker bees hovered all around —
Ladies in the last weeks of their lives,
Who would work themselves to death
For the sake of the hive.

The next morning, the would-be farmer
Stood at her kitchen window and
Held up a jar of fragrant pink jelly
That prismatic jewel with
A perfect, delicate texture.

She wondered how many worker bees
Had survived the night,
And she left the best
Rose of Sharon blooms
For the ones who returned.

Judith C Evans (c) 2018


Cecilia Marie Pulliam said...

Beautifully written, true words. I remember my gardening days, the excitement of the first harvested fruits and vegetables and the exhaustion of the last part of the season. I've not tried some of the jellies you made. They sound enticing. Oh the little worker bees, our world would suffer greatly if it wasn't for their sacrifices. Bless their little hearts. We owe them so much.

Judith C Evans said...

Flower jellies can be made from wildflowers and ornamentals alike. They’re easy to make and so good! I guess we both have soft spots in our hearts for the bees. 🙂