Climbing their lattice of bamboo and twine to a height of eight feet, the peas quickly staked their claim as the most visibly prolific performers in this year’s family garden. Less ostentatious, the radishes provided counterpoint in the ground. A bountiful teacher, the garden is a metaphor for mindfulness.

Through their gifts to each other last Christmas our younger son and his mother conspired to invest our small garden plot with a new approach. A carpenter by trade, his gift was to build raised beds and trellises, start the seeds early indoors and do the heavy lifting.  Her gift was a set of grow lights and her knowledge from past experience. Together they agreed to tend the plot regularly.

The visible progress to date is a plethora of vegetables in various stages of growth toward harvest. Less apparent but longer lasting are the lessons this project is teaching. Certainly, there are the hours spent planning the plot and its contents; constructing the beds and selecting, ordering and planting the seeds. However, the more enduring lessons are the following.

  • The cultivation of intention and follow through
  • The give and take of partnering in a journey
  • Accepting responsibility for the things we can control and letting go of those things we can’t (e.g. the weather, seeds that don’t germinate and taxes paid at night to four-legged visitors)
  • New awareness (e.g. natural allies like the tree swallows who swooped in daily to feast on grubs and beetles and a family of foxes who appeared as the voles began burrowing into the beds and moved on as the borrow mounds subsided).

Most bountiful to this spirit is to observe a son’s new found interest and a spouse’s maternal joy in a joint project with one of her offspring.

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