Gardener. Priest. Stranger. Friend.

The hub had a garage sale the other day.

A table full of fishing tackle.

Lots and lots of tackle.

A table of woodworking tools.

From when he had a shop.

Two tables were covered in framed Red Wings posters and photos.

Some of them autographed.

From when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

A woman – a stranger – walked up the driveway, breezed right past the garage’s offerings and headed for the arbor that leads to the backyard.


I intercepted just before she entered.

“I want to see your beautiful flowers,” she said.

“There’s not much to see,” I said, puzzled.

She brushed her hand over a plant in one of my trugs.

“What’s this?”


She took a whiff.

She wanted to see my garden.

“It’s pretty wild this year, I haven’t been out here much.”

I pointed to where the garlic and raspberries grow.


“See those Lamb’s Ears? I didn’t plant them and yet there they are.  Just appeared out of nowhere a couple of years ago and now they’re spreading everywhere.  This is the first time they’ve flowered.”




“I’ve got lots of large, overgrowing yellow flowers that my mother gave me,” she said.

She described her house a few streets away – with two big white swans in the front yard.

Invited me to come by and dig some up if I want.

Before she moves.

“I bought a small house with a big patch in the middle of the backyard.  It’s all overgrown – used to be a vegetable garden.  I don’t know what to do with it.”

“Turn it back into a vegetable garden!,” I suggested.


“It’s a lot of work,” she sighed.

“Do you have any brawn?,” I asked.


I pointed to my husband. “Yeah, you know, someone who can till the soil for you?”

“No,” she said, “I just divorced a sense of direction.”

There are ant hills in all the cracks in her patio at the new house.  Biting her ankles.  A gardening blog suggested pouring boiling water over them.

So she did.

“This is my confession,” she said.

She looked me in the eye and implored, “I’m giving you my confession.”

I gave absolution.

“Killing them with chemicals probably wouldn’t have been any easier on them.  At least the water isn’t toxic to you.”

“Or my neighbors,” she quickly added.

There it was. Absolution. She had already come up with her own.


“Is that basil?” – she pointed to two healthy plants in the near trug.

“Yes, we’re having pizza tonight. Margarita pizza.”

“What time should I come over?,” she laughed.

I pointed out my black krim tomatoes.  “They make the best pasta sauce – such a great depth of flavor.”

She admired my trugs some more.


“My husband built them for me,” I said.

“He builds and you make your own pasta sauce. A match made in heaven,” she chirped.

“Turn that patch back into a vegetable garden,” I insisted.

“It’s a lot of work,” she sighed.

“Make friends with some brawn. Do you cook?”

“Yes,” she looked puzzled.

“Make friends with some brawn – maybe a few – and then make a deal.  They prepare your soil and you cook them great meals from the bounty.”

The sun rose on her face.

She high-fived me.

“I have to go pack.”

She said as she breezed back down my driveway.


And I felt strangely sad.





faith, life


This was a day’s worth of raspberries last summer – and every summer, for that matter, since I planted two raspberry bushes ten years ago.



Every day, for weeks, I would pick a whole bowl of berries, wash them and make them into something delicious.

For three or four weeks in July and then a second yield in the Fall.

This is how many raspberries I picked today:


And one lone strawberry, not quite ripe, but if I waited ’til then it would be gone.

In July I ate not a single berry from my garden. Not a single one. They grew and ripened, but not for me.

My grandma went to war with some birds over her raspberries one summer. Then she ripped the bushes out.

“If I can’t have them, then neither can they,” she reportedly said.

I’m not like that.

I’ll share.


I’ve been blessed with an abundance of berries every summer and fall for 10 years.

This year, apparently, was for the birds.

Perhaps God rotates the flocks. Lets them feast in my garden this year, then sends them to your garden next year.

Perhaps that’s what’s meant by tithing our first fruits.

I don’t mind that.

I don’t mind feeding the birds and the squirrels and the chippies once every ten years.

So long as their movable feast moves on…




Public Service Announcement: Gardening

First of all, put on your gloves!

Even if you’re just quickly pulling a bit of debris out from under your strawberries on your way out to dinner with the hub.

Debris as harmless-looking as this can put a real damper on a dinner date:


Case in point:  Hubby and I at a nice restaurant talking about the whole David/Bathsheba debacle. Hubby is in the middle of sharing an insight, I brush my dang finger tip against the dang tablecloth, ow!  What did he say? Ow! What? Ow, ow, ow, what?, what?, what? I could barely even see the dang splinter but oh could I feel it whenever it brushed against ANYTHING.

Upon returning home I inspected it under 10x magnification.  I could see it clearly protruding from my flesh, a nice, thick, chunky piece of pain. I grasped it with my tweezers but it wouldn’t budge.  I tried again and again and again and again and again.

Until my finger felt completely mangled.

I resigned myself to sucking it up and waiting for it to work itself out.

And then I brushed the splinter against my pillow.

So up out of bed I arose, grabbed the iPad off the nightstand, went into the spare room so as not to disturb the slumber of the hub, and googled “drawing out a splinter.”

There before me were several suggestions. I chose this one.

I placed 2 or 3 granules of Epsom salts against the splinter, wrapped a band aid tightly around them to hold them in place and went back to bed.

My finger started to throb. Maybe that’s what it’s supposed to do…. Off to sleep I drifted.

I kept the band aid on for a few hours this morning because it kept the splinter from catching on anything, hence no pain.

Then I pressed a key on my keyboard just so and OUCH!

Working again under magnification, I gave the skin around it a squeeze and more of the splinter came forth. One grab of the tweezers and out it slid.

I think the Epsom salts tenderized the flesh, softened it to the point that it loosened its grip.

So, there you go. A proven home remedy and a public service announcement:

Take a second and put on your garden gloves!

And have a happy Monday.

Oh, and if there are any gardeners reading this, I have a question.  I didn’t have any straw to keep the berries up off the soil, so I mounded pea pebbles just under the plants (so the runners can still attach themselves to the soil).  Like this.


Am I going to regret it?

I’m new to strawberries.