“My Father’s Garden” by Nancy Frantel
“God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.’ “Genesis 1:29 (NRSV)
When my brothers and I lived at home we looked forward to summer each year. With one exception.
While we enjoyed the break from school, we didn’t enjoy how our time shifted to another assignment–working in daddy’s garden.
Okay, I guess you could call it the family garden, but somehow the three kids spent the most time there.
No matter how much time we worked in the garden, we didn’t appreciate the blessing of having space to grow our own fruit and vegetables.
An attempted excuse, “I don’t like [insert most vegetables]. Why do I have to help?” failed to get any of us out of weeding duty.
Occasional moments of excitement occurred when the strawberries and blueberries ripened. However, opportunities to enjoy their tender, sweet taste came few and far between. Why?
God’s beautiful creatures called birds. Unless they took a day off, by the time we attempted to pick the fruit, few berries remained. Even covering the plants with netting failed to deter them.
We might find blueberries if the birds decided to take the day off, or full from the day before. If that’s even possible−wouldn’t they spread the word?
Especially since they apparently knew about God’s promise to feed them. Matthew 6:26a: “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (NRSV)
At least they could help pull weeds while enjoying the delicious buffet.
While weeding wasn’t on their “to do” list, they learned how to pluck the newly sprouted corn plants out of the ground. The small amount of green shaft told them the softened kernel was ready to consume. Ok, I give them credit for being clever.
However, my father learned to protect the corn by using tin cans. He removed the top and bottom, leaving a cylinder. He placed the can around the seed prior to sprouting. The frustrated free-food birds were not happy.
And neither were my brothers and I. The less the birds consumed, the more work for us. We tried different excuses to avoid the garden assignment. Some days the chore list caused a fleeting thought of wishing summer was over.
But we didn’t look forward to school enough to be able to use, “I have homework due tomorrow so I can’t help.”
Then “The Year” came along. Daddy decided to plant a new vegetable−pumpkins. But not just any pumpkins−giant pumpkins.
He always wanted to grow them, but “feed the family” vegetables took up all the space. Finally a plant we wanted to assist with its care.
After several months of pruning and watering, we watched the pumpkins mature.
By October the largest pumpkin seemed to reign over the others. Weighing over 300 pounds, the heir apparent to future pumpkins seemed proud to have survived.
I guess the birds felt we deserved a break. Or maybe they don’t like pumpkins.
Nancy Frantel lives in Virginia, and is a published author of three history books, public speaker and researcher. Prior to becoming a writer she worked in corporate management. A “life interruption” injury in 2010 limited her ability to work as a writer. In 2017, she attended several Christian writing conferences, and felt led to start over in a different genre. Her goal is to write inspirational and encouraging stories based on her experiences, lessons learned by trusting God, and individuals He provides along the way.