Our Urban Garden

When I was in elementary school, we did those career quizzes that predicted what kind of employment path you might choose based on your interests and skills. My number one vocation, three times running, was “farmer”. It never happened. I am a city girl born and raised, although, I’ve had my fair share of farm experiences. Horseback riding, picking berries, we even brought home baby ducks for the weekend after we hatched them at school (my mom was not too pleased either as we didn’t tell her her bathtub was going to be occupied for three days with stinky, mess-making, fuzzy little creatures!) My grandpa was a great gardener too, and I loved following him around his garden. It was always laden with deep red geraniums in hanging pots, an abundance of peas and beans … and I always fell for his trick of tasting the sour grapes from the not- quite-ripe vines that overhung the trellis walkway.

This year, the youngest and I attempted our first “real” urban garden. We have done a few potted tomatoes in the past, but our soil is poor, and we have a lot of shade, so not too much grows in our neck of the woods. This year, since moving our carport, a plot of earth literally opened up for us. We planned early and picked seedlings to start (part of my going greener adventures). It has been fun to watch her get excited about watering and weeding! Sadly, Ontario has had a terrible spring this year… wet and cool for way too long… and then we skipped right into hot and humid summer, so I am pleased that anything grew in our little urban farm experiment! Today, we harvested a bumper crop of mixed lettuce! Complete with a beetle of unknown variety and several creepy, crawly earwigs! Success! Organically grown produce! In the city!

Part of the fun of success is letting my imagination get the better of me… I get carried away with thinking about the next project… beautifully tiered growing boxes of fine veggies, plots of land with free ranging chickens that get tucked into adorable coops at night. Corrals with milk producing goats shoving their annoying little kids back from climbing over the fences. Oh, I could learn how to make goat cheese! Or lavender scented goat milk soap in small, handmade batches!

But alas, my ever patient hubby reminds me to “be satisfied with what you have”. Delight in the joys of what you have — right now. See your current success as a blessing, and not always look for bigger or better. I’m trying. But I crave more. I fight this inner struggle of my dreaming heart — and my practical head. I know I would become overwhelmed with a bigger plot of weeds. I know escaping chickens would drive me crazy, and failed goat’s milk soap would frustrate me (even in tiny batches). But a girl can dream, right?

Am I alone in my struggle to do more? Not likely. Perhaps, this is why Jesus used so many examples of agriculture in His teachings. Sure, it is something the people would be familiar with, but it is also such a growing and changing creature in and of itself. Agriculture — urban or otherwise — requires good growing conditions, fine weather patterns, and a whole lotta hard work! The people of Jesus’ day understood that His parables about soil or mustard seeds are partially dependent on what they did and partially dependent on trusting God for the process.

We have read countless children’s books to our crew about how we can plant seeds and water and give good soil, but only God can grow the seed. Our little plot of land has reminded me of those simple truths. We pray for our family members to be healed, or go to church, or see our faith as something real. We send them books to read and online articles to ponder. We teach our kids Bible truths and send them to Christian summer camps. But only God can grow the seed.

We have one lonely carrot in our urban garden. One. Oh, we planted lots… but only the scraggly top of one, singleton carrot is showing. We have no idea if anything is growing beneath the surface. Perhaps the visiting bunny may finish it off completely before the harvest season. I want and wish it to be fat and plump and delightfully orange… but it may be only a tiny root come the day we finally dig it up. And I will again be reminded, that God is in control, and we need to be patient, and just keep trying again — next year.


Want to see a tour of our little urban garden? Check out our Instagram page @mittonmusingsblog or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Mittonmusings/

One Woman’s Mid-Life Crisis

Well. It happened. Officially. The children have scattered in various directions screaming and ducking out of the way. The hubby is cowering with mouth a gape, unsure of what to say or do next. The world as we know it will never be the same: I have hit my mid-life crisis. Oh, you would never know it to look at me. Okay, I have filled out around the middle, have lots more grey hairs and a few more wrinkles, but people have already seen those changes and are used to them. And it’s not the biological clock that has stopped, either. The batteries are wearing down and it’s getting slower, but the hands still move in a perpetual motion. I am afraid to say it — But — It’s my mind. My brain has synapse overload; the old noggin has shorted out and fired neurons that should not be fired. I have hit the point in my life where

*sziwip* POP *sparks * and fizzle —

and then a wisp of smoke.

Toast.

I have come to the point where I am wondering: What happens next? Where do I go from here? What is to be had for the rest of my poor, pathetic life? This is the last week of school. The kids will be done for the summer and we will be flitting from place to place, soaking up the sun and enjoying time off. I have some things planned, and we are always busy. No, it’s not the day to day things I am talking about… there are always lots of those to do. It’s the big questions: What am I here for? What does God have planned for me next? Who? What? Where? Can I have chickens? You know, important stuff.

Tonight we watched our middle son walk across the platform at grade 8 graduation. Middle of the road. The geeky stage between elementary school and high school. His suit jacket was a bit too loose and his dress shoes just a bit too tight. His classmates a mix of blossoming adolescents … none quite there… yet. The valedictorian speech was full of hope and promise…of journeys made and travels still to come. Oh, what little you know in junior high! And now? Me in the middle of life. Caught between aging kids and aging parents. Careers established but you can’t retire just yet. Dreams have been sought after — only to find that reality bites.

I’m even having trouble with mittonmusings. I have been reviewing “YouTubers” and popular “vloggers”… should I start videos?! Our life isn’t sensational enough… and yet so many videos go viral and are deemed “successful” simply by documenting their cats sleeping… or dogs eating broccoli. I look at top google searches and try and understand algorithms and analytics… and what’s up with advertising?! Should I be aiming at being the next top influencer for 2020? Shall I do “unboxings”? Of what?! Muscle ache creams? My monthly subscriptions of granny square crochet shawl patterns? (Which wouldn’t be bad, actually…who wants to sponsor me?). Oh no, my friends, Blogging is not for the faint of heart.

(Photos by superrgb and curology via unsplash)

Am I the only one who wants to sell everything I own and move to the country to raise chickens?! Am I the only one who is considering a purple streak in my hair to just be wild and crazy? (oh poor introvert me… to indulge in such revelries…) Sometimes I wish I had a bit more gumption, a bit more chutzpah, a bit more throw it to the wind and see where it takes me. But alas, I too, will have to simply climb the next rung in life’s ladder. Fold the next load of dirty laundry and paint the deck this summer just like everyone else.

Photo by Aaron Burden, unsplash

I used to laugh at King David, the writer of the Psalms. He always seemed a bit “up and down” shall we say? One psalm is full of praise, worship and green pastures…. the next is woe to me, Oh Lord, please smite my enemies. Such drama. Or maybe David was simply having a mid-life crisis, too! I think this is why so many turn to the Psalms when we hit those bumps in life… misery loves company. We are comforted by the fact that David, the messed up guy who often let his emotions get the better of him, was still considered the man after God’s own heart. The creator of the world, created mid-life too. He welcomes our questions — even the big ones. He sees the future even when we feel like ours is pointless. I’m still praying that He will give me a little boost in the right direction and re-connect my fried brain. I’ll keep you posted on it. And maybe, just maybe, show off that YouTube video of me in the beauty salon getting that streak of purple in my hair.

How Much is Too Much? Learning to Live a More Balanced Life

Finally! The weather and my work schedule has co-operated enough to allow me some clean up time at the house! I am afraid that it is only a “lick and a promise” though (as my mom would say). The bathrooms are clean and I’ve wiped all the counters, but I really would like to get in deep and give all the rooms a good make over. I am beginning to look around and say “wow…we have a lot of “stuff”!” As I try to live a little more “green”, I am beginning to see just how much we have accumulated over the years. We have been blessed enough to be able to buy what we want… and we have. I have a lot of high hopes for things… projects and crafts I want to tackle, furniture I want to refinish, new things I want to learn, and often I can’t say no to a great deal at the thrift store! Time and energy simply get the better of me and my best laid plans get pushed aside to the back of the basement… again. I sound like those hoarders on the documentaries… I wanted to, but just didn’t. Then somehow the piles begin to take over.

The truth is, most of our society has become this way hasn’t it? We always are dreaming bigger, wanting more, and pushing the limits. Even the minimalists are driving forward with their agenda of quality not quantity. My friend describes it as the “new piety”. If I live this way with these things, then you should too…and if you don’t, then you are doing it wrong. If this lifestyle, or this diet, or this gadget, or this, or that, is the way I like, then it must be the best for everyone. And so we must accept it. But how much is too much? Somewhere along the line we have lost balance. Myself included.

I tend to be an all or nothing kinda gal… ask my friends… I love a good project. A task that I can focus all my attention on. Therein lies the problem, though… it takes all my attention. The rest of the world begins to fall down all around me but my blinders prevent me from seeing it. I think I’m not the only one with such tunnel vision, though. So much of our world is “micro-managed” with minority groups driving home very specific opinions on very specific topics. Even our careers and educational paths have taken on this micro vision. Health care, too, has become so finite. We see one specialist for one problem and then have to see three others for the side effects. It can be a little frustrating. We become “specialists”– but masters of nothing.

Photo from link below

We recently saw a film called “The Biggest Little Farm“… a documentary that followed a Californian couple who gave up their city life to try their hand at a new wave of farming. (I think the hubby suggested it to tame my want for chickens…which didn’t work, but I digress). Under capable (yet slightly radical) mentorship, they decided to diversify their farm. They planted a variety of fruit trees instead of one crop, and varied their livestock to share in the load. The idea was balance. Their mentor assured them, that in time, the land itself would balance out, that their farm would flourish with the ebb and flow of predator and prey and nutrient renewal. Science tells us this is true, yet, I couldn’t help but muse how spiritual the message was. We are just finishing a study of the gospel of Mark in our small group. It’s fascinating to me how the gospels show us this idea of Jesus’ perfect balance between a focused plan and the bigger picture.

Christ, the messiah, knew He was coming to earth to fulfill a very specific purpose. He had a goal. A set task. Yet in the height of His ministry he still was conscious that He needed to take time aside for self care, reflection and prayer. He healed many, yet not all. He planned for the future, but often didn’t know where He would sleep at night. He had no means of salary, but never seemed to go hungry. He surrounded Himself with both women and men, with rich and poor, with educated and outcasts. There was no false piety, there was simply a message. Jesus didn’t promise that His way was the easiest, either. Being a Jesus follower did not guarantee the easy road, nor does it now. But it does bring profound hope.

I think, it is this hope that we are all struggling to fill with our stuff, our visions, our drive for the ultimate. We want our futures to be sealed with security. I too, struggle with the future unknown. I’m always looking for something new… “just in case”. That’s the delight of the faith journey though… it’s a journey. A continual path to Heaven that starts when we take the first step out in faith. It then becomes a winding path of checks and balances, but ever encompasses that Hope that guides us onward. So how much is too much? When we become so blinded by all the stuff that we can’t see the forest for the trees. When we begin to lose hope because we have not taken the time to get back on the right path, or the path is blocked by a narrowly focused tunnel. We need a little mix of all to keep the balance. I’m not there yet, either, but learning… anyone need some glass jars? I think I have too many…