Nothing gets published lately, but draft after draft gets written, and abandoned. It could be a pretty good metaphor for parts of my life. And I suppose that is how it should be. We get only one chance, each moment, to live that moment. There are no rewrites, no final drafts, no polished end results. Our first drafts are all we ever have, we can only do our best.

My garden this year has been a wild proliferation of volunteer plants from last year’s garden. I was late in starting my seeds, when it comes to gardening I seem to always be later than recommended. But I always figure that I have nothing to lose by trying. It usually works out okay, in the garden.

At the end of the season last year I was a bit fatigued, perhaps, or struggling with one of the many things I seem to always struggle with, which is neither worth remembering nor writing about. And so the end of season produce produced in my garden was just…left. I didn’t pick it, I didn’t do anything with it. It eventually fell to the ground, the plants eventually froze, along with anything that had been lingering on them. I brought my bike in and out of my condo through that garden every day, and every day I felt guilty for my neglect, knowing that others would have done the end-of-gardening-year tasks.

I finally did those this spring, because I had to pull out the old dead plants in order to plant new.

I planted some corn, going along with my gardening philosophy of “why not, what do I have to lose?”, and some bush beans and some carrots and sunflowers and parsnips and fennel and parsley and chives and epazote and strawberries, most by seed but some by starter plants at the local organic market. I started peppers and cucumbers and tomatoes indoors, from seed. Some has done well, others have done nothing at all.

The corn is already 5 to 6 feet tall. A coworker has wondered that my homeowners association doesn’t have rules against growing crops, and truly if they do I have not bothered to look up and read them.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they did have such bizarre rules, governing what food we can grow, while they baby the expanses of lawns that they value over food. I hate homeowners associations, but this area has insane housing prices. This was the best I could do – a condo with a patio. I’m extremely lucky and grateful for the patio.

Not long after I planted my seeds, I realized one day while I weeded the patio that some of the weeds were not weeds at all. They were tomatoes and cucumbers! Not ones I had planted this year, since those were all inside still, and these were coming up mostly in areas I hadn’t cleared of annoying white rocks and wasn’t planning on planting this year.

Most gardeners will advise you to pull up the volunteers ruthlessly. You don’t know what they are (hybrids, perhaps) and you don’t know if they’ll be good varieties. They might not produce fruit, or not much, or maybe just not good fruit. They’re taking up room.

But I looked at those tender little seedlings, those amazing resilient little seedlings that manifested my neglect and turned it into something beautiful and worthwhile, and I just couldn’t pull them and throw them away. I did take a few of them and gave them to some neighbors and a coworker, but mostly I just let them grow. What could it hurt? What do I have to lose? They weren’t anywhere I was going to plant anyway….

And so I have a wildly vibrant patio this year, with cucumbers and tomatoes growing like weeds. The volunteer tomatoes and cucumbers are producing fruit, while the little seedlings I started from seed, the proper way, are still babies, still trying to settle in and are far from producing flowers let alone fruit.

I’m sure my garden is a metaphor for something in my life.

If so, I’ll choose to think it is a positive joyful metaphor. Things are growing, and I’m enjoying it. If the tomatoes aren’t the best in the world, I can’t work up a care about that. These volunteers are doing their thing, and I’m letting them. That feels good, and that feels right. We try to control so much, and in the end there is very little we have real control over. There’s something immensely satisfying about a wild garden, where the plants themselves have decided where a good place to grow would be.

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