I've thought a great deal about why I am so drawn to the soil. And each time I come back to my childhood memories of being in my grandparents' garden in Connecticut. My grandfather toiled in a large vegetable garden each summer that was planted in one corner of their one-acre yard. He grew pumpkins and peppers, cantaloupe and watermelons. But his true pride were the deliciously red tomatoes and fresh ears of corn that graced our summer picnic tables. My grandmother focused her gardening passions on her rose garden right next to their back patio. Her Mr. Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and other rose varieties filled the patio with wonderful fragrance and often found a way into vases throughout their large, sprawling house.
That's me on the left, standing with my older brother, holding a flower and squash from my grandparents' garden. From the day we could walk, my brother and I were out in their gardens, learning all about how to plant seeds, when to pick a squash, or how to tell the difference between good and bad bugs. I can fondly remember helping my grandmother pick Japanese beetles off her roses and dropping them in buckets of soapy water. (As an aside, when Japanese beetles invaded the Midwest a few years ago, I was more than ready for the fight.)
Between the time my grandparents moved back to their Midwest roots in the mid-1980s and the time my wife and I purchased our first home in 2000, I didn't have the opportunity to garden much, aside from a few small containers on rental patios. When we first looked at the property in February 2000, I saw the potential to finally have a place to grow my garden in my soil. When we closed on the sale in April, few boxes were unpacked before I started to dig.
In the 14 years I called that plot my garden, I transformed virtually every corner of the property to where it no longer resembled much of its original state. In the summer of 2014, my adventures in that garden culminated in being one of six gardens featured on our community's garden walk. As I watched and talked with many of the more than 750 visitors to my garden that day, I knew my time in that soil was limited.
Life -- and where I garden -- changed soon after the garden walk. My garden now consists of about 30 containers inside and on the balcony of my apartment, and I'm learning my way as a single father and solo head of household. Although the emotions and logistics of these changes have been difficult, I remain centered and appreciative of the gifts of life I still enjoy.
This blog, From the Soil, is my life's journal, inextricably intertwined with my connection to the earth and those things that share this connection with me. To me, the beauty of the world is often indescribable, so I also share the view through my camera's lens where my words fail to convey its truth. I hope that my writing and photography adequately capture my experiences as walk along this journey, my hands dirty, my eyes filled with beauty, my heart full and my mind humbled with wonder at all that comes from the soil.
I welcome your thoughts and comments.
I've been an invited guest at P. Allen Smith's Garden2Blog event, the Costa Farms Social Summit, and IGC, as well as a guest blogger for Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart Living Online. My workshop -- "Don't Blame the Camera: How to Take Better Landscape Photos" -- has been well received at gardener's day events in Illinois.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.