Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Spring has Sprung

Winner! Winner! Estella, you won a free copy of Kimberly 's book from last Saturday's post. Please send me your snail mail address at my website address christie (@) Christie-craig (.) com No spaces.

I’m sorry to tell you guys who live up north, but in Texas, spring has sprung. The robins have arrived, the mulberry tree in my front yard has dropped its fruit and the squirrels and birds are fighting over the purple berries. All the neighbor's outdoor cats are hiding under my car, hoping to get lucky—and I’m not talking about that kind of lucky—they’ll kill for a bird or a squirrel--literally. All day I have to listen to the chirping and squeaking noises, and the pathetic meows of the disappointed cats. Not to mention the upset female cats who don't take being ignored very well.

If that’s not bad enough, my entryway tile has the annual purple mulberry stains because son and hubby don’t know how to wipe their feet. My car and mailbox is covered in mulberry-colored bird poo because, obviously, mulberries have lots of fiber. Not that I still don’t love this time of year. I really do.

Oh, there is one other clue that spring is here. My son and hubby planted their garden. They do it almost every year. And to this day, when I see these two men out there working side by side, I remember their first garden. It was so sweet, that I even wrote about it. Below is my piece that was published in Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul years ago, reprinted in the latest edition of 101 of the Best Chicken Soup Stories, and recently picked up by Ideal Magazines.

A Garden So Rich

I watched out the window as they started turning over the soil. Of course, my husband did most of the work while our five-year-old son spent most of his energy fingering through the dirt looking for worms. Still, the sight of the two of them "working" side by side, preparing the ground for a spring garden, brought a smile to my face.
For just a moment I considered joining them. Then I remembered the excitement I'd heard in my son's voice when he announced that Saturday morning, "Me and Daddy are going to plant a garden!"
I sipped my coffee, wondering if joining in on the fun would be interfering in a male-bonding project. Right then I heard my son call out, "Hey dad, bet you can't find a worm this fine.”
"Oh yeah? Look at this one," my husband countered.
I could see the two squirming creatures that dangled from their fingers in some sort of "fine" worm contest. For a second, I wondered how one went about qualifying a fine worm.
Cringing, I made up my mind. This was definitely their project. I'd leave it to them. Besides, it might be more fun to stand back and simply see what grows out of this garden.
I watched as they poked the seeds into the black top soil. They planted tomatoes, squash, and green beans. I watched as they carefully transplanted the tomato plants into the ground. I listened to the spurts of laughter, the dialogue that passed back and forth.
"When will they grow, Daddy?"
"Soon," my husband replied.
"Not that soon."
"Tomorrow?" my son asked.
"In a few days. The seeds have to sprout, then grow."
"Then we'll have vegetables?"
"No it takes a while."
"One day?" my son questioned.
"Longer," my husband replied.
"Two days?" his anxious young voice queried.
I saw the smile touch my husband's expression and at that moment I knew I was already seeing the first of many fruits the garden would bring.
My son would learn that some things in life weren't instant. My husband would learn how to better deal with a five-year-old's expectations and endless questions. Patience...what a wonderful fruit to grow.
In the evenings that followed they knelt to the ground and looked for signs of new life. The sight of them, so close and with common goals, warmed my heart and made me happy I'd decided to watch from afar.
More days passed and each afternoon I watched the two of them water their garden. My son always managed to get as wet as the garden and, more times than not, even my husband came in drenched. The laughter that followed them in made the muddy tracks and extra laundry tolerable. Well, almost tolerable.
Finally, the plants appeared. From the distance I enjoyed my son's look of glee, as well as, the look of wonder on my husband's face as he, too, watched our son. And like the tiny plants breaking through the earth, I saw fruit number two appear. Pride...what a wonderful fruit to grow.
The weeks passed; the garden grew. At the first fruit-bearing blossoms, I watched the two men in my life study and examine each plant. My son would ask questions and my husband would do his best to explain.
"Why do they call squash, squash?" the smallest and dirtiest gardener questioned.
"I don't know," came my husband's answer.
"I wonder how many worms live in this garden?" my son asked.
"I don't know," my husband replied.
"A million?"
"Probably," my husband said.
"Can we catch them?" Excitement radiated from his voice.
"I don't think so." My husband chuckled. "But look at this blossom."
"Will it really become a tomato?" Came yet another question.
"It will." My husband smiled.
I smiled, too. For just as plants grow, I knew I was watching a relationship take root--watching cherished moments being framed for future memories.
They continued to water, to weed, and to care for their small garden. And after all the work and effort they proudly produced ten tomatoes, several medium-size squash, and three pots of beans.
One hot afternoon, my husband stared out the window at the wilting plants and asked, "Was it all worth it?"
Our smiles met at the same time. There was no need to answer. Relationships, memories, patience and pride. Who knew a garden could bear so much?

So . . . is spring sprung in your neck of the woods? Do any of you plant gardens? Do you have any special spring memories? Hey, Easter is right around the corner. Any Easter memories to share?
Crime Scene Christie


Edie Ramer said...

Great essay! I wish it were spring here. It's my favorite season. But though I'm still wearing my winter coat, I love the earlier rising and later lowering sun.

Gillian Layne said...

Ah, that was sweet!

We Easter egg hunt on my parent's farm. It's so funny--my mom scatters what seems like a million plastic eggs all around the yard and barn--and then the girls race the dogs and the chickens, who all seem to think those eggs are way too cool to leave alone!

Even though my oldest girls are in high school, they love it.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I dream of having a vegetable garden, instead I have to make due at present with pots. I had a mighty fine crop of cherry tomatoes last year though :)

Easter? We'll be going to the beach for the weekend. The Bunny will visit while we are away!

housemouse88 said...

Loved the story. Spring is trying to make it's way here. However, we got some ice last night. We usually already have our onions out by now. The weather has just not been cooperating with us. We hope to get our vegetable garden out soon. Have a great day.

red said...

Not fair, it was spitting snow here yesterday! Wonderful story, though.

Christie Craig said...

I know what you mean, Edie. You can feel spring coming on even before the weather changes.

I love it.

Thanks so much for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...

Okay Gillian,

Are you sure the dogs aren't chasing the chickens and the chickens aren't running for the lives, instead of hunting eggs?

Too funny. And what a great way to spend an Easter.

Thanks so much for stopping by.


Christie Craig said...


Hubby tried pot gardening for a while. Because we have so many trees, the backyard doesn't get great sun. Son and hubby thought the pots would produce better. It didn't work out so well.

However . . . because we lost some trees due to the hurricane this year, allowing more sun, they are hopeful the garden will do better.

And hey, those cherry tomatoes are good. When growing up in Alabama, we called them, Tommy Toe Tomatoes. Don't know who Tommy was, or what condition his toes were in, but the name stuck in my mind.

Thanks...and good luck with your garden.


Christie Craig said...


We had another cold front show up here last night, too. We didn't freeze, but it got down pretty low.

I hope it didn't hurt the garden. Here's hoping you get that garden in soon and it's a great success.


Christie Craig said...


It snowed a few days ago in Camden NY where my writer partner lives. I was mean and told her about turning on the air conditioner.

I know...I know, I bad!

Here's hoping it warms up soon. And just remember, I'll be dying in the heat soon, and it won't be so bad in your neck of the woods.

Thanks for stopping in.


Terri Osburn said...

That's such a great story. I'm thinking about putting one together for the Chicken Soup people and now I really want to try it.

I remember helping my grandfather in his garden when I was about 4 or 5. He set aside a little area that was all mine and I planted tomotoes. While working in that garden was also when I found my first pet, a stray cat that showed up and adopted me.

All alone for Easter as usual, but that's not a problem. I'm looking forward to a quiet day as the kiddo will be at her dad's and my final quarter of school starts the next day. My last hours of peace before the chaos really takes off. LOL!

Christie Craig said...


That story about the garden and the cat would be a great story for Chicken Soup. You could call it, "Growing Kittens."

Chicken Soup loves the Ahh kind of stories. They also like powerful endings. Something sort of surprises you, or gives your gut a punch of emotion.

I have faith you can do it. Write it. Maybe that's what you can do on Easter.

Happy Easter girl. And good luck on school.


Hellie Sinclair said...

Okay, the essay makes me weepy...I suddenly want to take up gardening and motherhood, and I'd suck at both, but great story.

Completely jealous of the mulberry trees. I remember eating mulberries when I was a kid--and they were the best berries ever. Now I can't find them. Clearly if they grow better in a warmer climate, I'm willing to move. *LOL*

Gemma Halliday said...

So sweet!
Spring brought a rainstorm our way in CA today. Kinda okay, though, as after all the sunshiny days I was just thinking that I missed the smell of the rain. I think it's supposed to clear by Easter.


Keri Ford said...

So sweet! One of these days I'm determined to grow a garden! I'm thinking of investing in a couple of those topsy turvy plants. I have a gazeboo that needs to be weighed down so the wind doesn't carry it off. I think a pot of tomatoes and cucumbers might do the trick!

Christie Craig said...


I found I'm a slightly better parent than gardener. Thank goodness babies cry when they need to be fed or watered. LOL!!!

But just for safety sake, you might want to start with a fern and make your way up to babies. (Smile)

Thanks so much for stopping in.

Happy Easter.


Christie Craig said...


I remember living in LA and missing rain and thunder storms. Now that I'm back south, there seems to be plenty of both.

Happy Easter, girl.


Christie Craig said...


God is my witness that there is nothing better than fresh tomato. Slice it up and put it between white bread with mayo and that is heaven.

So for sure, plant yourself some tomatoes. Don't let that gazeboo fly away.

Thanks for stopping by.


Estella said...

The flowers may say it is spring here, but the rain says it is too wet to plant a garden.

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Christie,
I love to garden. I love to pull weeds! It's mindless work that lets my ideas flow. I have been hit by the rose bug again this year. I see roses and I select one or two. Whether it makes it to next year remains to be seen. I was out Sunday preparing my garden bed (one of them). With this little cold snap, I've had to delay but expect to start up again probably right around Easter.

Oddly, though, I get Fall Fever instead of Spring fever. After reading your post and comments, you've got me wanting to try my hand at tomatoes again.

Edie, I know what you mean about the time change. Actually, this is my preferred time change and I'd just as soon keep it this way the entire year.


Donna Marie Rogers said...

Christie, what a wonderful post! I'm a gardener and a home canner, so this story really touched me.

I didn't know a darn thing about gardening when my husband and I first moved up to Wisconsin, but his parents decided this city girl needed to learn. LOL I can still remember my FIL laughing himself sick as I ran in terror from the killer honeybees. I mean, really, how is one supposed to learn how to garden when those evil little devils won't leave you the hell alone? *G* But I eventually got over it and came to love gardening as much as my inlaws. And my girls love eating fresh fruits and vegetables each summer. :-)

We celebrated Easter with my family this last weekend, so we'll probably just paint eggs with the girls and relax this weekend.

Christie Craig said...


Start chanting...rain, rain go away!

We had some storms just a few days ago. So far the garden is holding out.

Thanks for stopping by.


Alexis said...

Well, it was 46 degrees in New York today, so we're still waiting for spring. I also garden and thought it would be great fun to do with my daughter. But, my expectations when she was one were a little unrealistic. She spent most of the time pulling up the grass and eating it. We are making progress now that she's almost five. I plant the herbs and she immediately picks them and eats them. But, at least it beats the grass.

Christie Craig said...


Plant those tomatoes! Roses are nice, but they don't taste near as good on a sandwich. LOL.

I've never been big on gardening, but I love, love beautiful gardens. I can sit in a beautiful garden it refills my creative bin. I did a lot of articles on gardens, and did lots of photographs and sold to magazines like American Gardener, and Birds and Bloom, but my poor gardens at my house are lacking.

Thanks so much for stopping in. And plant those tomatoes. We have about seven tomatoe plants. I hope they do well this year.


Christie Craig said...


I would be running with you from the bees. Seriously, I'm allergic to bees.

I'm a county gal. I grew up weeding the gardens and oh, gosh, shelling the peas. I remember shelling peas for hours on end.

Mama would freeze the vegetables. I never got into freezing and other than a small backyard garden, that is cared for by hubby, I've never gotten into gardening, but...I have never lost my love of fresh vegetables.

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


Thanks for the laugh. I agree, at least now she's eating the herbs and not the grass.

You know my son loves to work the garden with my his dad, and I think it came from the time they spent gardening together when he was little. So...you might make a gardener out of your daughter yet.

Good luck and have a great Easter.


Julie Robinson said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Christie. You're right. There's nothing like having fresh tomatoes picked from your own garden.

It would have been interesting to read some of your gardening articles. Of course, sometimes while I'm busy READING about them, I have this niggling guilty feeling that I ought to be actually DOING something to make them beautiful!! Maybe it's a procrastination technique?! LOL

Anyways, good night. I've got to get ready for tomorrow.


Christie Craig said...

Procrastination is an art. Don't underestimate it. (Smile)