It was 8:30 p.m. Thursday by the time I hauled myself, kicking and screaming, out to the Rock County Community Garden to water my rented plot.
I was surprised at how cool and pleasant the evening was. However, I refused to let it cheer me up. It had been such an ugly afternoon. I was still headachey and feeling sorry for myself after an emotionally and physically draining work day.
I weeded until it was too dark to see. Then I watered by the orange glow of the security lights outside the Youth Services Center. I frowned diligently.
At one point, Jim Haseman walked by with an armload of carrots. I’ve gardened alongside Jim for three summers; he’s never sweaty or crabby. He never wallows around in bitterness. He just gardens like a machine for months at a time.
Haseman is one of several volunteers who lead the Rock County Jail Recap workers in their gardening efforts. They work in the beautiful stretch of the garden right along Highway 14. (Beyond that, you can see the rented plots such as mine.)
The Recap program allows nonviolent inmates to work off fines or jail time by doing community service work.
Over his carrots, Jim invited me to stop out at the garden workshop when I was done working.
“We’re making a salad,” he said.
Crabby or not, I’m still smart enough to know that when Jim Hasemen walks by with an armload of carrots, you should follow. In between supervising Recap workers, Jim has given me plenty of gardening advice over the years. (Usually, “more compost.”) The man knows his stuff.
I followed, and was treated to my first “real” garden salad of the season: fresh lettuce, kale, onions, carrots, kohlrabi, parsley, zucchini and homemade, make-your-knees weak balsamic vinaigrette.
My headache went away. My cranky attitude took a turn for the better. I remembered why I spend my June evenings weeding, watering and squishing Japanese beetles. You simply can’t be crabby when eating onions (and everything else) straight out of the garden.
I’m still three weeks out from harvesting veggies in my plot. (Well, except for Swiss Chard, she interjected bitterly. I’ve got plenty of that.) Thanks, Jim, for the inspiration. Before I know it, mid-July will be upon us, and I’ll be eating fresh vegetables of my own.
No more frownie face for me.