Grow wild, with reckless abandon!
I’m not a gardener. I used to tell people defiantly, that I am not like my mother, I do not like plants, I prefer animals, large cities, world travel. You can’t be a world traveler if you’ve rooted living things into the ground. After all, that would tie you down, wouldn’t it? However, as I sit here in my first home, in my very own office, trying to plan my first ever vegetable garden I admire the photographs of my mothers’ gardens from back home, and I can’t help but admit that she’s brilliant. Why didn’t I pay attention to her closely, as I had all the answers to my current questions at my fingertips all along?
I hated being from Iowa. I did not want to be a hick. I used to lament about not growing up in some exotic and exciting place…like…California. My plan was this: finish school, get as far away from Iowa as possible and quick, then claim my birthplace, Texas, to the inevitable “Where ya from?” for at least Texas is interesting. I would forget all about Iowa. You’ve got to admit that Cameroon is about as far away from Iowa as any other place, so it was with a bit of surprise (and I’ll admit a tinge of disappointment) when my Peace Corps recruiter told me I was nominated to be an agroforestry volunteer in French speaking Africa. Of course I accepted without hesitation, and without reservation, for going to French speaking Africa was my dream. Africa itself was my dream throughout my childhood. I would escape into my bedroom, or the backyard under a tree, pause from whatever novel I was devouring at the time, and repeat, “I am going to Africa,” because Africa for me was the one thing that kept me sane when the boredom and tedium of my life got me down. When I felt I didn’t fit in, I imagined it was because I was meant for much larger places and experiences than my little hometown could offer. I was going to succeed. I was going to be a legend, the girl who not only got away, but did things that most people only dreamed about.
Agroforestry. My first thought was, “I thought I was leaving Iowa.” Well, believe me, I have. Little did I know that as soon as I got here, my fantasies and goals would suddenly evolve into me becoming some sort of Renaissance Woman. Dreams of learning to can my own vegetables, make jams and juices from fruit picked in my own yard, germinating seeds, tilling, collecting eggs from my own hens, cooking and baking from scratch, and sewing my own clothes. On first glance it would appear that my goals have reverted back to the days of Little House on the Prairie, and I am Ma, but no, with these new goals I still have room for all my other goals as well which include learning to dance, become a master martial arts expert, yogi, speaking several different languages, traveling the world, living on multiple continents, adopting lots of children, being a writer, and obtaining my PhD. I have absolutely no intention of compromising on any of these goals, either, by the way. My word, we only have the one life, as far as I know, and I fully intend on squeezing every last drop out of it before I die.
So here I am looking up “My first vegetable garden” on Google, desperately trying to find someone to tell me what to do. But I know that I will just have to go out there, get my hands dirty, and watch the seeds grow.