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Thanksgiving grew my field of dreams

It was Christmas Eve a few years back when a call jarred me awake. My dad was on the other end, and he said someone had spotted smoke coming from the house we rented out on the other side of our property. The report was truthful. The little 1930s bungalow burned, even as we tried to save boxes of photographs and furniture and unopened gifts. In time, a dozer came and pushed away its charred remains. The grass grew. The landscape changed.

This past February, with spring just around the corner, I pulled out a gardening DVD and watched it until I was fully inspired. I knew just the right place for my field of dreams.

“Let’s plant where the house was,” I said, trying to sell my husband on the idea. It was flat. Sunny. He succumbed, but the work was hard. He plowed, then picked through brick and old pipes, then plowed some more.

Good Friday came and went, and we knew we had to get some seed into the ground. This would be no ordinary pea patch, though. I proposed exotic pumpkins and spaghetti squash. He wanted a row of cotton. We both thought the pound of deer-resistant wildflower seed was a good idea. 

I decided to keep our usual herbs close to my kitchen, though, in raised beds with a smattering of peppers and tomatoes. That’s a good thing, since nothing edible came of our field of dreams. My mom went into the hospital, and time to hoe and haul hoses a hundred yards was hard to come by. Things went to pot, as they say in these parts. Everything, that is, except my wildflowers. That 50-by-5-foot effort seemed to thrive on inattention. For nearly six months, it was a showstopper of cut-and-come again California giants, dahlia, cosmos, aster — and God’s wondrous creativity. I kept my vases full and gave away bouquets and invitations to come pick yourself silly. Drivers on Lott Smith Road had floral eye candy to catch on their commute. Mamas had a good place to plop babies for photo ops. Hummingbirds and butterflies had a feast.      

With summer still hanging in the air, I took a pair of my granddarlings to the flower patch to snip dead tops. Our basket filled quickly, and later that night we sat in the floor and twisted the heads until seeds — wads of them — fell into our bowls. I packaged the precious byproduct, along with a good measure of hope.

Last week temperatures dropped, and our field of dreams did its death dance. Petals curled. Stems bent. Colors – brilliant lilacs, fuchsias, and golds – vanished in the night. I regretted that I missed one last harvest, and I stopped to consider the real value of a $19.99 bag of seed.

Tomorrow, if the weather holds and the Lord wills, we will front our barn with a row of folding tables and lay them with linens and china and foods both familiar and foreign. (Yes, I am slipping in a few new recipes from a copy of Good Housekeeping.) The granddarlings will laugh on the trampoline and the grandguys will move from lap to lap. The Marine will tell us of Norway, and his grandparents will tell him to speak up. We will pass tea and rolls and time. Together.

Just before a baseball game begins in the pasture, I plan to pull out my bags of seeds and pass them around. As I remind my loved ones of big purchases made this year — cars, homes, trips, and such — I want to tell all who will listen what joy a simple patch of zinnias brought me. I will encourage them to be thankful for the small things, and I hope they will hear.

Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.