I called her over and we both stared into the rumpled earth.
"I planted these last year and they hid under the snow all winter."
"What are they?" she asked in ten year old curiosity, as my seven year old Daniel peeked over her shoulder too.
|Photo Credit: Flickr User: See-Ming Lee, Creative Commons, cc license|
Feathery green plumes marked each veggie treasure. I tugged and gently loosened them one plant at a time, before ripping them out of the ground. Black dirt crumbled and tumbled from the round tubulars and I laughed to see food and life burst from underground.
Because the truth was I had forgotten about them. Twelve months ago I had eagerly torn open the paper packet of seeds and stared in dismay at its contents.
"They're so tiny!"
Round brown flakes swirled and mounded inside the seed packet. Pouring a handful into my palm then, I had been afraid the seeds would blow away in a May breeze or be snatched up by cardinals and sparrows. Poking tiny finger holds into cool soil up to my knuckles, I slid one or two lightweight seeds inside, hoping at least several would grow.
Like a Bermuda Triangle in my garden, that corner of raised beds stayed stubbornly bare that spring, while Queen Ann sugar snap peas, Early Contender bush beans, and the butterfly-seedling life force of morning glory flowers had sashayed out of the ground.
In early summer, tall fern-like plants had stood up and crowded that corner of the garden, bowing heads conspiratorially, and I had hoped parsnips were fattening underground. Summer had swelled, crescendoed, and abated. Autumn's trees had dropped reds and yellows that crumpled into browns and tangled in the parsnip greens.
"Parsnips are better after several frosts," I told Mark as we peered out the living room windows in November and December. Snows fell.
This week, the soil warmed and ready, my red tulips bobbing in the breeze, I walked barefoot to my garden and tugged curiously on a parsnip's green top. Wiggling, prying, I pulled up a plump white parsnip.
"Nalia, come see!"
A small mountain of white parsnips mound up on my patio table now, the rain washing them nicely for me. And the parsnips suddenly remind me of my prayers.
Like tiny tremulous seeds I shake out and hold in small hands, they feel so paltry to the task. I plant them and wait, and time seems to slow some days. There are days when I wonder what will grow to fill that space. And as I wait, wonder, and trust the Grower's instructions, seasons pass.
Life unfolds beneath the surface. In the dark, treasures swell and mature. In the time I've forgotten them, God hasn't. They are sweetening, ripening, growing better by the day. It's in the frost that kills and in winter's long nights that the parsnips grow the sweetest.
After winter's thaw, petite purple crocuses and grape-like hyacinth clusters mark the passing time. Greenery emerges new life from the parsnips corner and I'm suddenly reminded of prayers and plantings from a year ago.
Crouching to my knees, I dig and pull, finding the treasures God has been growing all along.