This Saturday, my husband and I planted lettuce. And spinach, and chives, and a few green onions.
This is, of course, no big deal. It's a bigger deal than usual to us, because this is our first year in a new house, and the two years we spent in our last house involved too many other home-improvement projects to allow time for a garden, so it's been awhile. Planting these seeds felt like the last step in claiming this as our very own home.
But apart from that, it felt like the right thing to do for another reason. The truth is, although I didn't hate high school biology class, it wasn't my favorite subject. I've never been terribly well-versed in the intricacies of the process of life. I know about as much about how my garden works as I do about how my car works: which is, I know that whether or not it works affects me. And that's about it.
I was also not the world's biggest fan of 8th grade Health class, which I remember primarily had the effect of causing me not to eat hot dogs for about ten years. And in which I also learned that, if you did not use a condom every single time, you were almost guaranteed to get pregnant. Seriously. Just looking at a boy the wrong way might get you knocked up. So they said.
Life has disabused me of a few things I learned in junior high and high school. And I have forgotten some of the details I ought to have remembered along the way. So here I am, finding that my body's inability to do as it was decreed in 8th grade Health class has, among other things, given me a newfound wonder at the fact that anyone ever gets pregnant at all. This does occasionally make me bitter. But, more often these days, the better word would be, "incredulous." (I did like 8th grade English class.)
And so, my incredulous self decided that this is the absolute perfect time to try out the Miracle of Life and plant a garden. All we had time and space for this weekend were the two wine barrels we had brought with us. We reassembled them (these do not survive a move very well), visited the local nursery and found seeds for all kinds of tasty green salad items, and filled the barrels with dirt.
I put on my garden gloves and fingered a little trench around the edge of the barrel. I thought about the ultrasound wand, covered in latex, waiting for me as I sit in the stirrups and wonder how much longer it will take before the nurse comes into the room. I carefully placed seeds inside the trenches, trying to space them out just the way the little packet told me too. I thought about the injectible drugs arriving soon, the ones I'll start a week from today. I thought about the egg retrieval process on my calendar. And the needle which will inject the sperm into each egg.
They never tell you about that in 8th grade Health class.
I covered up the seeds with the warm, loamy dirt. I went to get a hose to water the barrel, and I thought about the transfer day, and about how I will look, from the outside, just the same after that procedure as I did going into it, and yet how completely different I'm sure I will feel.
I watered the barrel. I thought about the PIO shots.
I stood back and looked at the barrels of dirt which looked just the same as they had ten minutes ago, before I planted anything in them. "How does this stuff even grow?" I thought. "What if this is the year nothing actually comes up? I mean, there are a thousand things that could go wrong: the seeds could be too old, I could water them too much - or not enough - we could get a late frost, squirrels could dig them all up once they start sprouting, the dirt could be terrible...they're just barrels of dirt! How is this ever going to be a garden?"
Maybe it won't. But the truth is, there most likely will be a garden in the barrels. Because life is powerful. Vulnerable and powerful. Almost-not, and yet unbelievably fecund, when you think about it. And it always starts this way. With the something-that-will-be looking like absolutely-nothing-at-all. Remember that, I told myself.