October 25, 2009
This year, being the proud Obamabot that I am, I eagerly followed the left wing conspiracy all the way to my garden. Never mind the fact that I live at 9000 ft in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and get exactly 11.3 weeks of contiguous summer. The White House grounds currently survive an inordinate measure of chill under the scrutiny of the GOP. If Michelle could do it, I reasoned, so could I.
There are so many reasons why growing a vegetable garden appeals to me – not least of which is that we live so far away from Boulder. Being 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store has instilled in me a sense of creative do-it-yourself-ness. If I’m out of bread, I make it. If my kids are craving chicken nuggets, I break out the Fry Daddy. Krispy Kreme donuts? You better believe I’ve got a recipe and I’m not afraid to use it. I am a little old fashioned that way. Go ahead, make fun of me. I’ve still got my kickboxing gear and I’m not afraid to use that, either.
So when I run out of the basics—the lettuce, the tomatoes, the flour—I tend to panic a bit. These are the things that the Fry Daddy simply cannot construct. Having a garden would help me feel not so helpless over the distance. If I could just learn the way of the green thumb, I could break free from my dependence.
Since we have such a short growing season, we planted our seeds in late February, to ensure plenty of growing time. We Zone 4 gardeners were going to need as much help as we could get.
We put our little seeds by an East-facing window and waited for them to sprout. It was our daughter’s job to make sure that the dirt stayed moist and safe. But despite her diligence, nothing happened. Five-year-olds are not strong on patience and when there was no sign of a single sprout by May 1st, she gave up. She had also recently procured for herself a hamster. Hamsters always trump gardens.
Not to worry, I told myself as I took over her job of filling the watering can one morning. It was only May. No doubt those seeds knew this – and that’s why they hadn’t sprouted. They were on some sort of timer, just waiting for us to edge closer to summer.
I’ve never been very active politically before and it felt good to be doing something so directly supportive of the American way of life. May passed. June began. It was still cold and overcast most days, but a few sprouts had begun to appear. The carrots. The lettuce. They weren’t yet much – maybe a couple inches tall – but they had clearly awakened from their little veggie dreamland and were getting ready to go to town.
Ha! I thought to myself as I transplanted the seedlings in containers on my deck. Yes, we can!
Stoked to see the first fruits of my civic responsibility, I searched the Internet to see how Michelle’s garden was coming along. Just, you know, checking in. To my surprise and abject horror, the news was abuzz with the first White House harvest.
Here is a picture of the first lady harvesting some lettuce the size of elephant ears:
OK. Baby elephants. Possibly still fetal. But you get my point.
I considered my options. Should I boost the nutrition content of my soil? Should I buy a heat lamp and direct it over the containers during the afternoons when sun was sparse? Do a shaman sun dance? Build a sweat lodge? What would Michelle do?
Being the responsible Democrat I am, I once again consulted the Internet. I knew that Michelle’s garden was organic and therefore so should be mine, so I ruled out pesticides and enhancers. I couldn’t very well have a Monsanto garden. Very unpatriotic.
But despite my diligence and occasional naked moonlit dancing, things continued to slow down the progress of my patriotism.
First, a woodrat snuck in under the netting one night and razed the tomato plants to the ground. Didn’t eat the plants or anything. Just mowed them down and left them all akimbo to rot. Like a fucking Weed Whacker.
Next, I caught my 2-year-old blowing bubbles over the garden and then watering the pots with her bubble solution. Aha, I said to myself. It was entirely possible that this was not the first time this had happened. Truth be told, I had been suspecting it for a while as I had found an open bottle of “Miracle Bubbles” in close proximity to the growing zone more than once. But now that I had caught her in the midst of this act of agroterrorism, I raised the Homeland Security flag to red and sent her to her room amidst a flurry of tears and general toddler angst.
I had always suspected she was a Republican.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not) this was about at the same time of the fateful soil sample that spoiled the organic status of the First Garden. Her garden. It turns out that years earlier the Clintons had used sewage sludge to fertilize the lawn. The result? Highly elevated levels of lead. And still…local lead is better than imported lead, right? Right?
That little discovery didn’t stop Michelle from serving up home grown endive salads in the White House banquets and it wasn’t going to stop me. So I had now lost my zucchini. My Anaheims. My beets. I was not about to be thwarted in doing my part to make a better America just because of a hamster, bad weather, and the fact that a little old wood rat and a toddler had gotten into my garden and destroyed, oh, 80% of my potential crop thus far. I still had my lettuce, my chives, and my carrots, too. By all accounts, I was still looking at one fine salad at the end of the growing season. One mighty fine salad.
For the next couple weeks before the snow started to fly, I diligently watched over my struggling crop. The salad leaves were doing great and the two surviving carrots we had planted way back in February looked promising. More than promising. Long, lacy leaves towered above the remaining now-barren pots like a liberty flag. Nothing could stop us now. I might not have much of anything else left, but those two carrots made everything else OK. Those carrots meant that although obstacles had gotten in the way, there was still hope. Hope for a better garden next year. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for life itself and for the future of all that is good and right. Those carrots were the American dream.
I watched over those carrots like a mother bear watches over her cub. Long afternoons were spent near the window and sitting on a chair overlooking the remainder of my freedom garden. We were in the final stretch.
Finally, the day came when I knew we couldn’t wait any longer. Snow was imminent and the nights would soon see the first frosts of autumn. I gathered the kids and we got to work. First the lettuce, then the chives. Next the carrots. It was glorious. True, it may not have been the bumper crop–or even the full salad bowl–for which I had hoped, but what we did pull up was inspiring, nonetheless. It was indeed the hope for a better tomorrow and for the prosperity of our progeny. Those carrots symbolized a new generation of global minded world citizens who would usher in an era of peace, justice and fulfillment for all. Hell, those carrots were not just carrots – they were Adam and Eve. I believe the picture speaks for itself: