I’ve tried to grow mint forever. I dream of green-leaved mojitos and Thai spring rolls stuffed to bursting with fresh mouth tingling herbs. Fresh mint in a salad elevates it to something magical.
However, I kill mint. I’ve planted it in full sun, in part sun, in pots and in the ground. It all dies.
Nobody believes me. “Mint is impossible to kill,” they tell me.
Apparently I can pull off the impossible.
Jeremy stopped letting me even try for a garden years ago. He got tired of spending a lot of money on plants that withered despite watering, or burst into full “pick me now” just when we’d head north to Vermont for a couple of weeks.
Averill and a garden go back as far as I can remember. Edith, my great-grandmother, had one at her cottage while Marge (my grandmother) and my aunt Sue had one at the OPO every year. The year after Edith died, I went to the lake to plant both gardens with Marge and Sue over Memorial Day weekend; it’s still strange to me that there is a lush meadow behind the cottage where once there were tidy rows of carrots and onions.
Over the last few years, Sue has had a tougher time gardening. Sun-sensitive to the extreme, her psoriasis made it painful and difficult to get her hands in the dirt; her gout made standing or doing any kind of work like that almost impossible. She changed out the in-the-ground plot to 3 raised beds and for the past couple of years had someone come and help with the rototilling and even the planting and weeding. Last summer, she’d basically told Serge and Julie (the caretakers for the OPO) that they could plant what they wanted and she just wanted the option of picking stuff now and then.
I’m not sure she got to eat anything last summer. The growing season is short; she died in the middle of July.
When my parents were up at the lake earlier this year, working with a crew to get Snare Camp opened up for the summer, my cousin Terry was with them. She took one look at the neglected raised beds at the OPO and tackled one of them, planting some tomatoes and weeding around the volunteer onions that were already spearing to the sky.
Somehow the tomatoes looked lonely.
Before I knew it, I’d bought dirt and peat moss, plants and seeds. With a band of willing helpers and some about-to-be-discarded wire fencing from the tennis court, Mom put a fence around the beds and Dad weed-whacked the perimeter.
Gardening is a bit like anything worth doing, right? I mean, you prepare, you plant, you caretake, and then, if you’re lucky, you reap. You have to be present for every single step. It’s a bit like what we’re doing with this cruising thing, as weird as it is to be linking a garden to setting off on a sailboat. There’s a good bit of hope in all the hard work.
Sue, Marge, Edith - this one’s for you.
PS. Thanks to Jeremy, Mom and Dad, Margaret, Julian and Josi, and Sam!!! I’ll send you a note when we harvest something!