Growing a vegetable garden can seem a mundane and prosaic activity. For me however, there is something far more spiritual and magical about it. By holding a handful of seeds I am holding an entire vegetable garden in my hand. When we start growing our own food we tap in to the magic of creation itself. We become attuned to the cycles and seasons of birth, growth, abundance, senescence and death. In our busy lives it is easy to lose touch with the essentials. Becoming a vegetable gardener changes that, as we become increasingly aware of the magic that surrounds us.
Recently I was reminded of this. Hot, sweaty and aching after spending hours clearing summer vegetables and readying beds for their winter planting, I collapsed onto a shady log and shut my eyes. The smell of mint mingled with the liquorice scent of tarragon and anise hyssop as I ran my hands over the herbs nearby. And then I felt something out of place. Looking down between the plants I saw the eyes of a red frog looking back at me. A hard plastic, Chinese frog with a coin held firmly in its mouth. Picking it up the memories come trickling back.
A friend had given this to me years ago, telling me I should place it in my office as it was a Good Luck frog and it would bring money into my business. Finding its shiny red skin rather garish – and not having much space on my desk – I had popped it onto a log in my vegetable garden. He’d sat there for a long time as the log gradually weathered and disintegrated. I had never noticed that the frog had disappeared. I had been busy writing a book on vegetable gardening. Which had gone on to become the best selling gardening book in South Africa. This had led to a second best selling book and then a third.
Sitting on my log, on that hot afternoon, I realised my ‘Lucky” frog had also been hard at work, despite the fact that as the log fell apart, he had been hidden for years in amongst my plants. Without planning it, I had positioned him in the best spot to be able to work his magic. He is shiny red no longer, years of gardening have mottled his skin. But he is now positioned on a flat rock at the entrance to my vegetable garden. A constant reminder that my vegetable garden is not just a place for feeding my body, it is also for feeding my soul.