My dad was a country boy, and wherever we lived in suburbia, he always found room for a large garden. When some kind of produce was in season, we had a lot of it, but my mother never minded, and she'd think of new ways to put it on the table.
Once home from a busy day, Dad would change into his grubby clothes, head out to the plot with the dog, and tend to whatever he had planted. Usually this would consist of all kinds of vegetables, fruits, and flowers, with a few large sunflowers as sentinels.
We were able to supply the neighbors with generous amounts of squash, yams, broccoli, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, tomatoes, zinnias, and whatever else was at hand. It was fun to help tend and gather, or to be the basket-bearer of such bounty and receive the grateful responses.
Others in the neighborhood had strong garden aspirations, but despite all manner of exotic fertilizers and schemes, their results never reached the luxuriant effect my father so effortlessly achieved. I suspect it had a lot to do with sheer love.
I have lived in an apartment without a terrace all my adult life, and it eventually struck me that I, too, loved gardens and really missed having one.
My current apartment building is adjacent to a small patch of woods, where I take frequent walks. Huge maples and other Pennsylvania giants grow here, as well as a number of wild magnolias with large, shiny leaves. Flowers exude heady perfumes, giving the woods a jungle aura.
One early morning I surprised a little fawn, curled up in the secluded place where his mother must have planted him for safety. A great-horned owl and a red-tailed hawk frequent the heights. A giant fallen oak serves as a baronial banquet table for gatherings of birds and beasts when spread with birdseed.
I regularly gather up any trash that was thoughtlessly tossed into the brush and is so intrusive to the beauty of this place.
One evening after work as I headed out with a larger-than-usual bag for the first spring pick-up, I suddenly realized that I did have a garden! It was one I tended, appreciated, and shared - a selfless garden that made no huge demands on my time or energy, but was always present to refresh and delight. What more could I ask?