Fertile Ground This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Peals of laughter escaped from behind the imposing cornstalks and fluttered gracefully through the sweet summer air. The sunflowers loomed powerfully overhead, and the scent of lavender hung delicately around us. My nine-year-old brothers were rhythmically searching through piles of leaves and dirt to unearth mammoth zucchinis hidden beneath, competing to see who could find the biggest. My mom was checking on the pumpkins, which wouldn’t be ripe until the fall, while my dad rested under the grape arbor reading a book on golf, drinking lemonade and joyfully looking on as we all worked together in unequivocal harmony.

As I stood in the center of the garden and witnessed the quiet activity buzzing around me, I was enveloped by the paradoxical aura of chaos and serenity. And as I watched, captivated and inspired by both the majesty and simplicity of it all, I was taken back to the day, only months before, when we had created our Eden.

It was a beautiful spring day when my mother, Farmer’s Almanac in hand, decided it was time to plant our vegetable garden. My mom has gardened forever, and it’s now an anticipated and defining family tradition. Modeling an assortment of gardening accoutrements - gloves that didn’t quite fit, mismatched boots and a variety of hats - we traipsed down to the area that had always served as our garden with pitchers of lemonade, packets of seeds and eyes filled with visions of the past and future.

My mom distributed the seeds and watering cans, and hesitantly handed over the trowels and rakes, admonishing us not to use them as weapons. But we didn’t fight. We never fought while planting the garden. With an intricately detailed layout of the garden, she happily sent us to work. We dug and planted and fertilized, and argued about who got the hose, and who would be relegated to using the watering cans. All the while, we laughed and talked - about nothing, really - and basked in the warmth of each other’s undemanding company.

It had always been the most fun to plant the seeds, and even more gratifying to watch them grow. When Michael, Gregory and I were young-er, we would go down to the garden almost every day to water it and see if our projects had made any pro-gress. We waited - impatiently - but when the seeds finally did sprout, it was monumentally fulfilling.

I was brought back to the present by my brothers wanting to show me the enormous zucchini they had found. It was almost as big as their triumphant smiles. Big baskets were filled with a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables creating an amalgam of colors and textures. I could only imagine the gastronomic masterpieces this harvest would produce.

The sun slowly danced toward the horizon, leaving elegant trails of magenta and amber in the smoky sky. This was the unspoken signal that our work was done for the day. We gathered our bounty and walked back to the house, tired but peacefully satisfied. It is truly amazing what results from a small seed that is watered and nurtured and cultivated. That spring day, I realized, we had done so much more than plant a garden.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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