Something had been eating my green bean plants. I marched up and down two rows of plants following a trail of teeth marks. Some brand of rodent had gotten his fill and then raced off to bed with a belly full of my garden.
“GAH!” I shouted as I stomped back into the house. “So much for having a freezer full of green beans! Something is eating the plants. At this rate they won’t produce a single bean.”
My husband, Kedron, is used to my woe-is-me moaning regarding the garden. Every year I groan that the seeds will never germinate. Or that the tomato plants whose leaves bleached white due to a cold, rainy snap are surely going to die. I’m not usually a pessimistic person. But apparently, the garden extracts deep seeded insecurities from my soul. I fret. I hover. And every year, the garden proves me wrong.
Kedron shakes his head and replies, “I’m sure you’ll get at least a couple beans.”
A few days and many munched plants later, while staring out the window at the garden, I saw a single bean plant shake. I held my breath, as though whatever monster lay hidden among the leaves had hyper-senses and could hear me breathing inside the house. With the windows shut. The plant quivered again.
“Oh! Where are my shoes?!” I scrambled for the door, tripping over flip flops shoved halfway on my feet.
“What in the world are you doing?” Kedron asked.
“It’s out there! Whatever is eating my beans. It’s there! I saw a plant move!” I hollered over my shoulder as my feet hit the grass.
I had no idea what I’d encounter when I reached the garden, and no weapon or plan. Just fury.
I stood at the edge of the garden and saw a pile of brown fur lying between my rows of beans. It didn’t move. Neither did I. We held a momentary silent standoff.
I started jumping up and down and waving at Kedron who was standing at the back door watching his wild-eyed wife’s antics. The kids instantly recognized my frantic waving as an invitation to come join the party. They hang out with me all day. They know the hand signals. Little Miss and T-Rex raced out the door and stood next to me. Still the pile of fuzz didn’t budge.
Kedron sauntered out and asked, “Well, what is it?”
“I think it’s a little groundhog.”
“Is it dead?”
I shrugged my shoulders and replied, “Not unless it just had a heart attack, because it was just eating that plant.”
The four of us stood at the edge of the garden. The brown fuzz still didn’t move.
“Well, go get the live trap or something!” I urged Kedron. I hoped he’d have more of a plan than my nothingness.
“And do what with it if I catch it?”
“I don’t know!”
“Exactly.” Kedron bent down and grabbed two field stones from the edge of the garden. He threw one at the brown fur. And missed. But the animal dashed from one row to the next. At least we determined it was alive.
I screamed. The kids jumped up and down.
I should note that our backyard is a fishbowl surrounded by six other houses. Any number of neighbors could discreetly peer out their windows and watch our drama. Who needs television when the Rhodes are out? Just pull up a chair to the window, bring your popcorn, and we’ll provide the show.
The four of us had surrounded the garden. Or rather, the kids and Kedron had moved to the other three sides of the garden. I hadn’t moved other than jumping up and down and shrieking that someone needed to take get rid of the rodent.
“Why isn’t he leaving?” I screeched as Kedron launched another rock the size of a small dog in the general direction of the furball. The groundhog just kept scurrying from row to row.
“We’re blocking his path,” Kedron said. “He wants to go that way,” he pointed towards a clump of trees and tall weeds behind me.
I hopped from one foot to another and the groundhog finally made a mad dash to the left side of me.
I guess that’s one great thing about the garden: it brings our family together, and we get to work as a team. Or maybe it will just give the kids a funny story to tell their therapist one day– how their dad threw rocks at groundhogs and their mom just stood at the edge of the garden and shrieked.
And wouldn’t you know? I picked a handful of green beans a few days later.
It’s never as bad as I fear. Maybe someday I’ll remember that.
What about you? What’s never as bad as you fear it might be?