After days in the garden digging up the encroaching weeds and grass, pruning back terrifying thorny roses, holding the vibrating weed eater steady in my hands, I can stand back and view the newly cleaned out beds. Perhaps it is the farmer’s DNA in me from both sides of my family that sends me bolting out of the door barefoot and armed with shovel or rake. My mother’s people from West Yorkshire knew things about the land that I could only squint at. My grandmother and grandfather raised things, had many different types of honey labelled and stacked in the honey shed. The jars of preserves were in the cold cellar. And making do was something prideful.
My father’s people were Serbian. Even when my grandfather moved to a farm in Portland, Oregon which backed onto a rail line, Emile Covitch kept chickens, rabbits and a cow. His yard had trees that were spliced to maximize the variety given the space. One of the only pictures that was passed down to me of him, shows a stout, square man proudly holding a rope tied to his cow.
I have other projects, like the book about my trip to Europe which are waiting. But I can’t force myself to stay inside writing. I want to be painting new shining surfaces on my deck, on my fences. I want to be crouching over rearranging bricks into another sitting area.
My nails are broken off and perpetually rimmed in dirt. My feet are getting callouses because I garden mostly barefoot.
But I feel such a release of hope when I plant a garden.
It is exactly how I feel about Bernie Sander’s run for president and about the action of #DemocracySpring. There is a sense of escaping from out of the enclosure of sadness and futility that has surrounded so many for so long. I spend anywhere from 3 to 5 hours a day sharing good news about Bernie. Because I am of farmer stock. And I believe that seeds planted with care and optimism lead to a beautiful garden.