Spring. Sun. Soil. Digging. Seeds. Watering. Groundhog.

This seems to be the downward spiral in which my garden grows—or doesn’t.  I start out with such great plans. Take last year. Please. I’d heard about this revolutionary way to plant and I was eager to try it. Basically, you cut the front off a bag of potting soil, poke some drainage holes into the bottom and sow your seeds directly into the dirt. This I did and without the backbreaking effort of digging up my entire 8’ x 4’ raised patch, I had—voila!—a garden. And I took pains to protect it, too, putting up a chicken wire fence that was stapled onto posts at the four corners. There was a bit of a break where the wire fencing didn’t quite stretch, but I covered that with netting. Within a few weeks, there were lovely green sprouts emerging and I looked on it and it was good.

Coming home from an errand one morning, I stopped to admire my efforts. Peas and beans and spaghetti  squash and lettuce and some marigolds to help keep the bugs away—all were upright and perky and doing just fine. Two hours later, I emerged from the house and stopped in my tracks. In the middle of my garden sat a fat groundhog and around him was devastation, complete and utter.

I yelled, naturally, even though it was probably just instinct. The groundhog sat up and looked at me, annoyed that I was spoiling his lunch. Then he collapsed into what resembled a fur stole and slithered—no other word for it—slithered down between the chicken wire and wood sides of the garden, and off he toddled.

He’d done well, in terms of groundhog meals, for every green shoot was gone, leveled to the ground. “Wascally gwoundhog,” I muttered.

Almost nothing recovered. I replanted the spaghetti squash and it made a valiant effort, but  produced only two fruits. By that time, it was so late in the season that there wasn’t time to ripen. I wrote the whole thing off.

I confess that I’m not a very good gardener. I don’t take the time or the energy to do the job right. Many times, I even depend on what’s sitting around in the compost, but basically, my mantra is “toss the seeds in the general direction of the ground and see what comes up.” I play the piano in much the same way. But for those few minutes when I’m paused at the beginning of a new endeavor, be it music or plants, it’s that feeling of hope, of this time it’s going to be better that keeps me coming back.

My seeds are purchased for this year—peas, baby spinach, and another attempt at spaghetti squash. The groundhog better up his game.

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