Harvesting a Garden of Different Gifts
In 2014 Pete, Kole and I decided to move from Connecticut to Minnesota. Pete’s brother had recently passed away from ALS, and his parents were aging. So I called a family meeting and collectively we made the decision to be closer to family. A day later we put the house on the market. Two months later, we drove 2000 miles west to our new state of residence. I, now, love it so much, I don’t ever want to leave.
The first three months were spent living in my in-law’s home. At that point, they had already moved into assisted living, but they still owned it. It was very large. Because Pete’s mom, Miggie, grew up on a farm in the Depression, she was a saver of things-everything! Batteries, clock radios, scissors, glass jars, corks, lamps, cleaning supplies.You name it, she had it--in abundance.
I am an extreme neat nik. I line up my shoes. My hangers are evenly spaced apart. The dishes are almost always done and put away, as is the laundry. I don’t like clutter. In particular, I despise anything sitting on the floor. Furniture and rugs are the only exception. Miggie’s house was clean, but there was “stuff” everywhere. I almost couldn’t breathe when we moved in. I felt very “closed in” in a very big space filled with chaos. (Side note: DO NOT call me OCD. I have heard that before and that term is such a misused label. Clearly, those who use it so freely do not know anyone with the disorder. It is a serious affliction that is not to be taken or spoken lightly.)
Once we settled into Pete’s parent’s home, I had a routine of sitting at my desktop until 1am scouring Realtor.com looking for a place to live. We initially thought we wanted to have a lake in our backyard so we could have a dock, keep a boat, and ski everyday. Now, before you go thinking we were trying to be so exclusive, remember that Minnesota is the “Land of Lakes”. Being close to a lake is very common here! However, nothing on a lake spoke to us.
When I changed the zip code in my home search, I quickly found an incredible 13 acre property with a gorgeous home. The people who built and sold it to us did an impeccable job on landscaping and design. But in typical form, I had to throw in my personal flavor.
After a couple of years living here, I picked out the prime locale to put in a vegetable/cutting/zen garden. Pete spent hours mowing and rototilling the 300-linear foot space. I then took chalk spray paint and designed the parameters of the garden I envisioned. The back end was shady so, naturally, a zen garden with all shade plants made the most sense. We had an old, 4-foot long, wooden foot bridge that came from Miggie so I used it to make the connection from the zen garden to the cutting garden. I then mapped out the cutting garden with a careful pea gravel path that leads to an open area connecting to our dining area and raised vegetable boxes. It is a labor of love and I think it’s magnificent.
Each year I carefully plan what goes into the raised boxes. Out of the three boxes, one is owned by Pete. I have the other two. One is dedicated to basil so I can make enough pesto to freeze for the fall, winter and spring. The other is dedicated to rosemary, thyme, and lavender. I found that I didn't have enough last year so I have planted double the crop of rosemary and lavender this year!
Once September rolls around and we harvest the herbs from those boxes, I start my next labor of love. I put the rosemary in a large mason jar and combine it with olive oil and garlic to make an incredible fusion of flavor perfect for cooking or dipping. I’ll also use the rosemary and combine it with lavender along with lemon zest, jojoba oil and sugar for a shower scrub. (Let me tell you-it feels like being at a high end spa in your own shower when using this stuff. The silky feeling it leaves on your skin could be mistaken for butter.) These two products are perfect for November and December. At Thanksgiving, I give those mason jars as gifts to those who attend our large family gathering. Then come December, I carefully wrap a beautiful fabric ribbon around the lids on the jars, put a label on the top, and give the sugar scrub to my local friends as a Christmas present.
Garden gift giving is a simple gesture that makes not only me, but also my friends very happy. There is something to be said for any gift that is “homemade.” To me, it just screams being mindful of your relationships and sharing love with someone without having to speak any words.
I love that you were with me today. See you tomorrow!
Lisa A.K.A. Loopie