Twenty years ago, I found my own little patch of ground to care for, the one that had been in my dreams all along. That first spring, I sent away for dozens of apple trees and peony plants, eager to be rooted.
Imagine my dismay when my glorious orchard arrived in a little shoe box! The trees were not yet trees at all, but little pencils of tree-lings. The peonies were not giant shrubs covered in puffballs, but a bowlful of tiny new potatoes.
The early years were not much better. The deer ate the pencil-trees to the nub every time a leaf appeared, the peonies sent up sad single stalks without blooms, and I did my best to weed and chase the critters away, though often unsuccessfully and sometimes with a dash of resentment.
Now, all of a sudden, or so it seems, the apple trees are spreading unruly branches over my head and there are so many peonies it looks like a small child’s drawing of a garden, with great blobs of color all over the place.
Dear ones, we need to keep going.