My husband built me a new raised bed last week. I worked the manure, compost, top soil, and peat together until my arms ached. The peat was dust-dry, while the manure rolled out of its bag into one massive lump like clay. One lump at a time, I kneaded the dry into the wet into soft dirt, ready for seeds. Eight feet long, four feet wide, six inches deep. That’s more than a few cubic feet of dirt to mix by hand. But I love it.
Yesterday, armed with cold-tolerant seeds, I headed to the older bed, lying under a bed of fall’s leaves. This bed needed less kneading and more mixing with the trowel — turning the leaves under and fluffing soil flattened by heavy snow. One by one, I called a child from the swing-set to take a turn planting with me. I showed them how to poke holes with their fingers just the right distance apart, drop a couple seeds into each, cover lightly. We managed not to pour an entire bagful of seeds into one square inch of soil, too.
We filled a watering can at the spigot and each sprinkled water over their seeds. We talked about which seeds were largest, which were smallest, and which looked like something they recognized.
Then, as they argued over whose turn it was to swing, I wrote on small metal tags what we hoped to enjoy in early summer. Carrots. Spinach. Swiss chard. Snap peas.
As I planted the shiny markers in the empty soil, I thought about my daughter lying under the ground, her name on a marker too. I thought about Easter, just celebrated on Sunday, and how the story of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection parallels the death of winter, planting, and springing forth of new life in the spring.
It is beautiful. I want it to be true. But I wonder how it can be that one day everything could be made right. I hope so. It isn’t a confident hope that knows without proof that something will be. It’s the wishful hope of a gardener planting seeds of unknown origin, hoping that they sprout.