Last weekend, I planted a new asparagus bed in our back yard. The biggest task was removing the sod from a 16 x 3 foot patch of lawn; fortunately, Paul helped finish it off, just as I was losing steam. Once that was completed, it was fairly easy to dig a furrow, add compost and leaf mold, drop in the asparagus crowns, cover them up with soil, and wait for Monday’s garden-friendly rainstorm. (For curious gardeners, I planted 10 Jersey Giants purchased from Seeds of Change.)
What will be much harder than the planting is the waiting; asparagus needs three years before we can pick everything that pokes up through the soil. This is our third patch, so we’ve already lived through two rounds of torturous first and second springs: watching the tasty spears poke up through the soil, knowing if we break them off for that unmatched taste of fresh-picked, we will never produce a decent crop in the years to come.
Gardens are often called in as analogies for our life experiences because the seasons are so obvious. Spring is a time for digging new beds and improving the soil, while enjoying the fresh green shoots of magical renewal that never fail to surprise and enchant. Summer rewards our hard work with an abundance of flowers, vegetables—and the joyful colors of that plant we bought on impulse. Fall is a season of reflection, when we resolve to weed more and plant less. And winter brings the indoor solace of seed catalogs and planning for spring—when garden beds once again grow infinite in size, at least in our minds, and all those “buy less, plant less” resolutions are washed away by the happy imaginings of the next season’s bounty.
This past winter, as I restarted my freelance career, the gardening analogy seemed all too appropriate. Taking the time to improve the soil (by building a solid client base, tracking my hours carefully, and setting up an easy billing system) has already been rewarded by the magical green shoots of return business. Meanwhile, I’ve let myself enjoy the jobs on the “fun list,” even when they take more time than is justifiably billable. And when fall rolls around, I’m sure I will continue to refine website, blog, and the rest of the business backbone that (tiny as it is) ably supports my more visible progress.
Meanwhile, our spring garden looks different every single morning, as crocuses and daffodils give way to tulips and evening primrose. If I’m lucky, business will continue to look different every day too—right up through May 2019, when we can finally eat every single spear of the tasty fresh asparagus that this year’s carefully prepared soil will undoubtedly produce.