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Little Surprises

Life can be full of little surprises sometimes, and earlier this week as I prepared the garden for Jim to plow it up, the garden had a few surprises for me. It was as if it was saying, "hello and welcome back, I have a few things to show you." The garden has a life of it's own and I've learned that the better I feed it, the livelier it gets and the more it gives me in return.

I know from experience that when Jim says he wants to plow the garden, I'd better get out there and do a little walk-through...there might be things that need to be rescued from the shear of the plow. And I was right, there were things that I found to be too precious to be tilled under. Seedlings springing up with new life called to me. There were dill seedlings in great abundance, and even in this small size their fragrance abounds. I set them aside to be replanted later in an orderly fashion. No need to sow dill seed this year!

I came upon Hollyhock plants and several clumps of Johnny Jump-ups, which mysteriously popped up over the winter. They were seeds blown in from the flower garden last fall and had transformed into healthy plants. Sweet little surprises to delight the heart and give hope for a vibrant summer.

Jim told me that a few bales that had wintered over in the garden needed to be moved. We had put them there to insulate some fall planted carrots. I dug up after Christmas in the snow and we were able to enjoy them. So as I picked up one of the bales, I was surprised to see more carrots! Apparently I had forgotten to move one bale and missed the carrots beneath. They were beginning to grow new tops, but there they were, bounty of last year's garden waiting for me. There was even an onion or two thrown in. Today they will be added to split pea and ham soup for dinner!

My compost bin was full and now it was time to add more nurtrients to this living garden, the last step before the plowman and the horses entered the garden. I had accumulated eggshells, coffee grounds, leaves from the fall and weeds from last summer. They had turned into dark, nutritious matter that would give the garden a little umph for the coming season. But to my surprise, the compost bin housed something else- a mouse family! When I put my pitchfork in, several siblings wheeled frantically over the edge of the bin as fast as they could scurry, off to safety. But this little fellow just didn't know what to do. He tried to hide under some eggshells, under a banana peel, and under the skeleton of a gourd from last year. Finally he summonded his courage and strength and leaped over the edge of the container (an old watering trough) and was off to find his family and safety. Poor little scared critter! I thanked him staying still long enough to let me photograph him.

This afternoon in the garden, I found this little one quite endearing. If he was found in my house, now that would be a different story!

I hope you have a patch of dirt you can put your hands into, if you are so inclined. It is so wonderful to watch things grow and come to life. It has been said that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man. I know that to be true. I also know that being able to play a part in the mystery of the life that comes forth from the soil is tonic for the soul.

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