When I started gardening, my son was 12 months old. I took the baby monitor outside with me while he napped and laid it in the grass while I worked. I vividly remember that first summer clearing bishop weed from one of our backyard beds, digging down into the soil to find every bit of fleshy, white root, all the while keeping an ear out for those little noises he made when he woke up from his nap. I can still recall those sounds, through the static of the receiver, little whimpering noises that meant my gardening session was over.
A few years later, I bought him some plastic gardening tools. He wanted to do everything mommy did. I have a picture of him at two years old, very seriously wielding an orange plastic trowel over a pot of herbs. Oh, there’s my little gardener, I remember thinking at the time.
Age five, six, seven, etc., he still wanted to come outside whenever I did. Often he would make gardening quite difficult! I bought a plastic sandbox shaped like a turtle in hopes of keeping him occupied while I gardened. Sometimes it worked but often it didn’t. He would roll in the mulch or bother the dog. Sometimes he would pick up stones and toss them into the flowerbeds. Cut it out! I remember snapping at him and telling him to go inside if he couldn’t behave himself. If only I could garden in peace, I thought.
Now he is 12. Occasionally he wanders out to see what I am doing, but more often he stays inside and pursues his own interests. I am free to garden in peace. No baby monitor, no interruptions. Sometimes I stop and look up at his bedroom window and wonder what he is doing.
Today he wandered the garden with me and we picked herbs. I challenged him to name each herb just by smelling it. He got about half of them right. I told him that the smell of herbs warmed by the sun was one of my favorite things about summer. He told his dad and me about his excellent sense of smell after differentiating chocolate mint and spearmint. We agreed that this was exceptional.
Some of the changes that occur in the garden make me ecstatic and some make me weep. I am glad there are a few things, like the stones, that never change.