In Search of My Mother’s Garden

Backyard April 24, 2022, Regina SK

I am patiently planning a vegetable garden. I genuinely don’t know what I am doing, but the anticipation to get on with it is killing me- Having lived the past seven years in Quebec, you would think I would be used to long winters. Still, Eastern Canadian winters have nothing on a Prairie winter, and I am, after all, a west coast gal through and through, so I find myself on April 24 DESPERATE for it to be Spring already. The snow from last week’s storm has pretty much melted, but the ground is too hard and crunchy to work, and the temperatures are still dipping below zero overnight and haven’t even approached double digits yet. My ol’ man came out from Montréal last week for Easter, and we had foolishly thought we would be able to get the yard prepared- but a “Colorado Clipper” had other plans, so now, he has had to return East, and I am left to do it on my own. I am (somewhat) hopeful but a little overwhelmed with how this will get done. I know that even the modest little plot I am planning will be a lot of hard work. I am on a budget. And except for the teenagers whom I will do my best to bribe with some of the heavy lifting, I am on my own. It is really not such a big deal—a bazillion folks have done it before – my Mother, for example. She was a farm girl by birth and always had a fabulously luscious plot in our backyard growing up (and then bountiful container gardens when we moved into a townhouse)- she is both an inspiration and the model gardener I fear I will never be. She’s set the bar high.

I have already decided that I will devote some serious time to this project. I am submitting the paperwork to request my summer vacation tomorrow and I have booked some days off to devote to gardening around the May long weekend when (I have been told) one must get your planting done in Saskatchewan. Taking vacation dates to garden feels strange to me and, to be honest, positively decadent. Last year, my first year working a real full-time job, I didn’t even use all my vacation days- meaning I have even more to use up this year. I am still getting used to getting paid to take holidays. Paid vacations were one of the reasons I so badly wanted a TT job; however, after 10+ years working as an adjunct, I still feel like I am getting away with something by actually taking them.

I recently read one of those inspirational quotes that I am so partial to—something about taking stock of what you have right now, reminding yourself that the things you have now were once the things you dreamed about having. This is certainly very true for me, as these past couple of years saw me hitting some important goals. Finishing my PhD landing a TT job, buying a house, getting a dog(!) and planting a garden were all on this list, so I think in true “go-big-or-go-home-Holmes” style, I am putting a lot of pressure on myself to realise the garden of my dreams like one of those charming urban homestead gardens I see on Instagram or TikTok– (note to self; get the H-E-double hockey sticks off social media) when I should really just take a do-what you-can- enjoy-the-process type of approach.
I’ve let this whole garden business get bigger than what it is. I’m fretting over whether I deserve to take the time to tend it; I’m worried it will never live up to my Mum’s—And so I will place my hope in Alice Walker’s words; “In search of my Mother’s garden, I found my own”.

Gardening books library haul.

Published by mamalegato

Mama to six kids, theatre artist, doctoral researcher, voice teacher... slow and steady wins the race....

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