I plant gardens

This year it consisted of all sorts of tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes and plum tomatoes make up the bulk of the crop. The cherry and the plum tomatoes are ripe for picking; the beefsteaks however have been a little slower to ripen. Most of them are still green but are starting to turn. I’m hoping that after another couple of weeks of basking in the August sun they will grace my plate and I’ll be able to share them with some friends at an end of the summer barbecue.

I also planted some peppers. Jalapeno’s and red and green peppers take up a small patch of earth right beside the tomatoes. So far, I haven’t been too lucky. I’ve got plenty of plants, a few flowers but no fruit. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Alongside the peppers I planted some zucchini and other assorted types of squash. I was hoping for a repeat performance from last year when I grew so much zucchini I couldn’t give it away. So far this year my entire haul has been one lonely zucchini, a somewhat small summer squash and a rather pathetic looking thing that resembles butternut squash. There are still a few flowers budding every now and then but I’m not holding out too much hope. So much for great expectations.

The next row in my crowded urban landscape consisted of yellow and green beans. This was my first attempt and it was resounding success. The satisfaction of picking a medley of these brightly colored legumes for assorted dishes and dinners over the early summer was stunning. For once, trial and error was replaced by victory. I’m hoping for a repeat performance next year.

After that, there are some cucumbers. So far the results have been a mixed bag. Once again, plenty of flowers but little fruit. Oh, there have been maybe six or seven that were quite good and as I run my hand under the leaves I find some evidence that more are being produced. I’m thinking that the final results will be in within the next couple of weeks.

Last not but least there were radishes. These were supposed to be early season crops and sure enough the sprouts were early and the stems grew tall with assorted flowers branching off in every direction. The bulbs, if you can them that, were a disappointment. Skinny and mottled would be an apt description. I guess it’s just one of life’s little reminders that appearances count for nothing.

I grow forests

It’s hard to believe my daughter will be sixteen in a few months. This year she’ll be a sophomore in high school. The time that remains at home draws thin and it won’t be long before she heads off to college and strikes out on her own.

Her freshman year went exceedingly well. She took four advanced courses and still managed to pull in a 3.85 GPA. She was also elected to student council and even spent a week this summer with other council members from around the area at Wright State University where she learned leadership skills and other assorted civics lessons.

She’s already been named the de facto captain of both her club and junior varsity high school soccer teams. Still, she’s not satisfied. She wants to get on varsity.

She still takes guitar lessons every Wednesday and it’s a joy to hear her practice from inside her room. What were once strained attempts at forming chords and putting them together now resonates with actual songs played from the beginning to the end. I often sit downstairs with the television off and listen with a smile on my face.

She’s been dating the same boy for about eight months now. I watched them from the corner of my eye while I was pushing the lawnmower the other day. They left my house to go off to a local festival at one of the nearby churches. They were holding hands as they walked down the street. A warm feeling washes over me..

A while back I asked her about him and what he’s like and why she likes him so much . Her reply was something along the lines of “I don’t know, he’s just so kind”. I’ve met him, he’s shy. So far there has been no teenage boy/girl drama between them. I like the kid already.

She’s also taking drivers education as a prerequisite to getting her license. Her life is packed to the brim with activities. Some of them are fun and some of them life building. All in all it seems to be a good balanceThis is the only week of the summer where nothing was planned. No soccer, no summer studies and no camps. Seizing on the opportunity she and her mom and stepdad got into the car and headed off to Vermont. It’s about a thirteen hour drive from Ohio. Before she left she took out about ten books from the local library to help fill the void between the miles. Along the way they said they might stop and take a look at some college campuses she might be interested in. It's never too soon to start looking.

Over the next couple of weeks summer will begin to fade and my little backyard garden will grow brown, wither and eventually die. It will need to be replanted each and every year. It seems that on the other hand, even without my day to day presence, the forest will continue to grow.

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