Back in the garden, I plant a new row of bib lettuce, one of radishes, and another of green onions, my mouth watering at the thought of the tasty salads to come.
This will be the last of the tender, early crops. Summer’s heat, which ripens tomatoes, beans, squashes, and corn, is fatal to all but the onions. Those will grow as big as I’ll let them, but this variety is sweetest when picked no bigger than my thumb.
The crumbly dark soil smells rich and fertile. A big, fat earthworm all but hops away from my spade. I jump and laugh out loud.
The well-prepared ground requires little more than scratching a furrow with the edge of the hoe. On hands and knees, I make three slow laps up and down the garden patch, firming the soil over the seeds with my fingers just enough to keep them from washing away before they sprout.
Murgatroid steps across my hands, brushing her bushy black tail under my nose. But she doesn’t like the loamy soil. Dirties her paws. She soon retreats to the edge of the grass, where she plops down, spreads her forelegs back and over her head and exposes her underbelly to the morning sun.
“Hedonist,” I chortle. She ignores me.
Finished with the seeding, I’ve just enough time to deadhead the weeping rose bushes in the front borders. A breeze dries the perspiration on my forehead and neck. “Thank you,” I smile, to the blue sky and high white puffs of cloud.
Overhead, a robin sings in the maple tree. I drag my weed hopper around front and cull the wilted, spent blossoms, carefully saving any unbruised petals for potpourri bags. The rest pop into the hopper, along with the occasional errant weed.
On the south side of the house, I check the incubators in the sandy border next to the root cellar door. Nine quart jars stand in a row over naked rose stems. Delight! A few have sprouted their first leaves! Removing the jars, I check the new growth carefully for disease or pests.
The stems, picked abloom from favorite bushes in their prime, first brightened tables throughout the village, then came to me for rooting. The tender new leaves testify to healthy roots below. Soon the plants will be strong enough for transplanting to someone’s garden. When they are ready, I’ll carefully package and label each one and carry them to the nursery.