Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ALL TALK, NO ACTION (01/10/19)
TITLE: I Come to the Garden Alone
By LINDA GERMAIN
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I reach for another catalog from the stack by my comfortable chair. One has an intoxicating splash of bright yellow on the cover. Daffodils are staged in watering cans, wheelbarrows, and even sticking out of an old mailbox. Such beautiful displays make me smile with anticipation of another spring.
This year I hope to plant a garden exactly like Grandmother’s. I will never forget the sharp straight lines of carrots, peas, lettuce, and onions growing with little corresponding pictures glued to sticks at the end of the rows.
I plan to get up at dawn and head outside with her same little hoe to work the rich soil. There were plenty of teachable moments for me back then, especially about keeping a sharp lookout for any sneaky weed or bug intruders.
Sometimes, as I helped her, Grandmother would stop mid-row and stare at me. That usually meant she was about to impart a dash of profound wisdom. She was planting something besides beans and squash.
“Now listen to me, Tulip baby,” she would begin, “if nothing is planted, nothing will grow. That includes everything from seedlings to friendship to love to tithing to good character. Do you understand?”
Solemn-faced, I would nod as I pretended her advice was deposited right into my bank of life-knowledge.
She knew what, when, and how to begin that growing process. Some things, like tomatoes, had to be planted when the moon was in just the right cycle.
“There really is a time for everything under the sun,” she would declare with great authority.
She prayed as she worked. I wouldn’t be surprised if she even admonished the rabbits to move on to some other fresh vegetable buffet.
I strain to see through the droplet-stained window by my chair.
“After all the planting is done,” I say out loud to the cat curled up on my lap,” this kind of slow rain will be just what the crop needs, and then lots of sunshine to follow. It’ll be fun. You’ll see.”
As I continue to dream my way through more pages of luscious fruit, flowers, and healthy vegetables, my sister calls from some faraway place. Rosie moves around so much I can’t keep up with her current headquarters.
“Hey, Tulie,” she yells through the iffy connection, “I’ll bet I can guess what you’re doing.”
I’m predictable, so I’m sure she’s right. I play along anyway.
“Bet you can’t.”
“I saw a report it’s raining there. I’m pretty sure you’re devouring more than one seed catalog.”
I have to laugh. She knows I only dream about doing. I don’t actually do.
“Yes, this year I believe I’ll even put in a row of corn. Not too much though since it’s hard to take care of all those ears when they come in at once.”
We chat awhile about how wonderful it will be to have fresh things to eat next summer. She tells me a little about her work as a missionary to the masses who have never heard about Jesus.
A few months pass, and I get up early to sit on the back porch and sip hot coffee. It’s chilly, but I’m so enthralled with the scent of earth and morning dew I don’t notice. My mind is bursting with more grand ideas for the plot by the fence behind the shed.
The phone rings. Reluctantly, I shuffle inside. I hope it’s Rose. I can’t wait to tell her about the cute scarecrow I found that would be perfect guarding the corn stalks.
It isn’t my sister. It’s some official from whatever missions board she works.
“A dangerous virus ran rampant through the village,” the stranger informs me.
My darling Rosie is dead. He tries to comfort me.
“She was a hard worker in God’s Army. She planted many churches that are alive and thriving. Untold numbers were saved because of your sister. Always remember that she sowed the WORD that produced a harvest of loving people who will pass it on for generations.
I sit, staring and numb but unable to cry. Finally, I get up and dump all the catalogs, put on my old rubber boots, and march out to look for that hoe.
There’s work to be done, and hungry people to feed.
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