by Giselle Renarde
I rent an apartment in the city, and over the past ten years I've accumulated nine containers on my balcony. That's my makeshift garden. It's not ideal, but it's better than nothing.
When I a kid, my father always kept a vegetable garden. In fact, one of my first memories is getting a nasty splinter in my foot from one of the rotting wooden beams that marked the boundary. Every year, my parents would "do down" countless tomatoes, which seemed like a frightening ordeal--all that peeling red skin and tomato guts, mason jars and bubbling water in giant cauldrons.
I can't remember what else we grew. The tomatoes stand out in my mind.
Digging in the dirt has always been one of my favourite activities. When I was little, I dug my hands deep down in the soil, searching for worms. I wasn't happy unless I was dirty. Now that I don't have a patch of earth to call my own, it's the thing I most covet. I want to dig and disturb. I want to play in the earth. It's hard to do that in a container garden.
But, again, it's better than nothing. There are moments when I'm weeding or dead-heading, or planting seeds, or noticing for the first time that something's started to germinate and it's poking its little green head out into the great big world... moments of utter perfection. I've never experienced heaven like that doing anything else. It's a feeling I've only ever had while gardening.
And it's fleeting. It lasts only a moment. A spark of perfect pleasure that grows out of the earth, fills me with bliss, then dissipates into thin air and is gone.