Freshly turned dirt always makes me excited.
From the time we pulled up last year’s tomato vines and turned under the late summer weeds, I’d been planning for the day we’d plant again. I had such great hopes for a veggie filled year. I just couldn’t wait to get started.
Spring had been slow in coming this year, though. It just seemed to rain from January straight through to mid April.
When it finally stopped raining long enough for a part of our garden patch to dry out, we were weeks behind—but in a place like Tennessee, that doesn’t matter quite so much.
Scott tilled the soil up, and I raked it into beds. We spent all afternoon and all evening preparing and planting our little patches of beans, okra, corn and tomatoes. We put in squash and cucumbers and melons. It was going to be beautiful and I couldn’t wait to taste the fruits of our labors.
The very next day after we had spend all those hours making beds and planting seeds, the sky opened up in a torrent of rain. It rained in sheets. A flash flood swept across our beautiful just-planted garden. It washed across my front lawn, and made a couple small rivers right in the middle of the garden. It rained for three solid days.
When the rain let up a little, I ran out to look at the damage. The trenches were deep. There were a mix of bean seeds and okra seeds and corn seeds washed around in puddles. The tomato plants had fallen over.
So I rebuilt the beds. I planted the seeds again. And within days, it washed it all away again.
But five months of pregnancy and flash floods couldn’t stop my determination. I was going to have a garden this year! I replanted what I could as soon as it was dry enough to work the dirt again.
And this time, they sprouted. My bean plants were beautiful. The corn was growing almost faster than I could watch it. Okra came up thick and strong. I had lots of flowers on my squash plants. I could almost taste the sweet rewards of fresh tomato and cucumber sandwiches.
Just as my beans put out a bumper crop of blossoms, it started raining again.
It rained and rained and rained. The ditches I dug filled and overflowed. The whole entire world was soggy. And it kept raining.
Two weeks later, the sun peeked out of the clouds for the first real time since the rain began. My garden was a mess. I tried to tie it up. I tried to keep the waterlogged plants alive. But the rain just kept coming.
Plants molded and died. Squash couldn’t get pollinated. Rusts and mildews attacked the tomatoes and it was too rainy to properly treat them.
My garden was a complete flop. There would be no corn on the cob, mounds of fresh from the garden beans or cucumber sandwiches. There wouldn’t even be summer squash.
But there would be one thing.
Somehow, in spite of the flooding, the mess and the deer that okra still grew. It grew taller and taller and when it started producing, there was more than I could have expected or hoped for.
We ate okra for almost every meal. We put it in sauces, we breaded it, we put it on pizza. We even ate it raw!
Many gardeners and farmers around us shared in the loss of produce. It was a hard year for those who rely on growing things to make a living.
So every time I picked yet another bag of okra, I counted it as a bag of blessings.
Every time I diced up yet another pan full for supper, I said a thank you. All that hard work, all those hours and all those days of hoping through the rainiest year in 40 + years had its reward after all. We still had our okra. It made replanting a little more worth it.
I’m looking forward to another year–hopefully a better year when it comes to gardens and produce. But that persistent okra? It stood up in the never ending rain and bloomed and reminded me of courage and hope.
It was a little-but-great way that God reminded me to never give up. It pays to keep trying.