It rained last week. A LOT. In fact, all told the garden got about two inches of rain in four days after a three week dry spell. And while I’m very very thankful for the rain, it did come at a rather tricky time of trying to get the greens planted and ready for the fall u-pick-it business. But nothing can be done about planting until the soil dries out a bit and can be worked. With the high clay content that we have in our garden, trying to work the soil while it’s wet only results in bricks.
As a result, the past few days in the garden I have been doing what things could be accomplished while I wait for the sun and the wind to dry out the earth. Tony helped me to put out stakes for the peppers, and other than that, I’ve weeded.
And weeded some more.
The odd thing about it is that I really enjoy weeding after a rainfall. The work is quick and light, and the weeds, which had seemed so indomitable prior to the rain, are now uprooted easily with a twist and a firm tug. It’s gratifying work to pull the weeds before they have a chance to set seed. You can see the progress as you go down the rows, and, once the row is complete, the peppers stand out proudly and grow much stronger without having to compete with the weeds for nutrients.
Weeding, while still a gardening necessity, is spiritually and aesthetically pleasing to me, and I always fall deeply into contemplation when working alone in the garden, pulling weeds.
Of course, as I mentioned previously, weeding after a soaking rainfall is much more productive than weeding during a dry spell. When the soil is hard and dry, the weeds break off in your hands, while the roots stay below the surface. Most weeds will then just send out runners and rhizomes , and where once there may have been one weed, now there are multiple weeds in its place. Weeding in the dry, hard clay of Georgia is frustrating and futile.
The difference is the rain.
The weeds are the same. The particles of soil are the same. The action of the gardener is the same, but the rain makes the outcome so very different. It is only AFTER the soaking rainfall that the weeds can be pulled easily, and in the act of that pulling, the soil is aerated as effectively as if it were freshly tilled, allowing the plant to grow even stronger.
It’s the rain that makes the difference.
When the days are sunny and bright, without rainfall, it’s as though everything is perfect, but moment by moment, in the midst of all that seeming peace and perfection, the earth is getting baked harder and harder. My soul can be like that. Too much ease, too much brilliant sunlight, and the weeds begin to set in. Laziness, pride, complacency, self-indulgence and envy, all these weeds take hold at the slightest opportunity and flourish, digging in with tiny, powerful roots. I see them, and can’t help but think, “nah, it’s hard to pull them now. They’ll just break,” before leaving them to grow another day.
But just before the weeds completely overtake me, God always sends the rain. He knows that rain in my life – hardship, sadness, loss, and fear – is often what I need most to soften the hardened clay of my soul. When the rain has finally stopped my momentum, when the rain makes any other task seem impossible, the only task left is to weed.
Sometimes it takes a great deal rain for me to stop and attend to the weeds in my garden, but when I do, the reward is often profound.