Ah, tax day. That annual day when I get penalized for working hard and billed by my government for stuff I neither use nor agree with. Its the second of two tax days that get me riled up by the waste and misuse of funds by our elected officials. The other day is local property tax day. That one steams me up bad. Those taxes, by the way, are going up yet again. Sigh.

It rained all night. A dull rumble of thunder in the distance has a soothing effect. The steady shower wasn’t one of those impressive thunderstorms where the ground is punished by violence; instead, it was one of those nights of just a pleasant, steady rain.

The spring peepers and the toads had quite the choir this morning. They called to one another and answered. The fresh air is cool and clean, scrubbed by the falling moisture. And now that the garden is drenched, it is happy and very vibrant. I enjoy what pure rain water does to a garden. Just last week some of my tomatoes were little ten-inch high twigs, now they are branching out, finding new soil and nutrition with spreading roots, and taking off in earnest. Its a beautiful thing to consider these plants came forth from a mere seed. I never grow tired of pondering the miracle of life.

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So on tax day, having now rendered unto Caesar and feeling a bit cross about it, a walk around the wet and greening plants is in order. Walking among the plants and checking up on little projects here and there are among the pleasant little things in life that make growing plants a joy to me. I hope you feel the same.

I am not in this to sustain our family with food, or I would not have more than fifty tomato plants. I’d plant beans and high-yield vegetable crops if it was a matter of making our own food. I do aim to contribute to the bottom line, but this is mostly gardening for the sake of pleasure, for learning finer techniques, and experimenting with methods. If the North Koreans nuke us, at least I will have much more knowledge and ability to make food, should I need to. And believe me, I can grow some beans.

Walking around, doing the various tasks of gardening, like picking the weeds that come up and not getting too upset if you don’t get them all, and watching the bird hop along the garden edge picking at your worms that are on the move – that’s a nice way to forget about Uncle Sam. I arranged some stuff on my cinder-block and palette work bench, and realized how happy such a contraption makes me. I think I am a real gardener because I have an outdoor work bench. Ha!

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I found a piece of nutgrass. I had just read about how nutgrass pushes up from below protected by a hard outer sheath that is sharp. I found a leaf perfectly skewered by this tough nut. Praise God for such design. A small joy.

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I had to pinch the buds on my fig trees today too, a practice that encourages better growth and more fruit. Poor things bleed white. But they will be better for it. How nice to do so on a cool morning as I think about all the many parables of Christ that include plants, roots, shoots and fruits. Owning fig trees is a small pleasure. I recommend it.

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Another small pleasure is the discovery of good food growing wild. at the base of my Celeste fig tree, wild onions grow. Each spring they smell so wonderful. They are powerful and spicy, but in moderation make a nice substitute for store-bought green onions. It is especially useful in a ‘bone broth.’ They look so nice.

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But its not just this morning that made me feel grateful. I experienced some small pleasures over the last two weeks. I had fifty tomatoes left over. That means my church family got them. How wonderful it is to bless someone with a plant and hopefully see them enjoy the fruits of my labor. I even got to see some of them planted in their final home, a square foot garden a little south of here. That makes me smile. Have a look:

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My little boy, doing his studies in our patio chair makes me appreciate how blessed we are to be able to bring up children with good discipleship and character. It makes me glad he can do his work in the garden or on the porch if he wants. He is a blessing.

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To have him work beside me in the garden and help with the plants is not only building our relationship, it is teaching him more than he knows. He loves to catch skinks and lizards and toads. Yesterday he caught a Spring Peeper frog. He loves them, they fascinate him. He has a tender heart for animals.

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He gave a presentation to his home education co-op group on how to plant seeds. That seed was an old, out-of-date, yellow summer squash that I gave him. It was a demo, after all. It really should have been planted in the ground and not a cup. But that old seed sprouted. He’s so proud.

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He loves blueberries. This weekend he helped me select two little 3 gallon pots with rather sad looking blueberry bushes in them. We bought them, and potted them this week. I hope soon that I can share my son’s blue fingers and stained purple smile, because that makes me happy.

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I treasure this time. He’s my last child. It won’t be too long before he’s got his own family. Seize the day, treasure the moment. Its the little things that matter.

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