The Impatient Gardener

by Nathan Smith

Daddy, can we plant the garden yet?
The snow’s all melted and the ground is wet.
A moist green smell is floating on the breeze.
The sap’s stopped running in the maple trees.
The cattle down the road are done with hay.
They’re munching on green pasture grass today.
And in the morning, I hear the birds sing.
Can we plant the garden, since it’s spring?”

“Silly boy, how can a smell be green?…
On second thought, though, I know what you mean…
Anyway, it may yet snow again
And what would happen to our seedlings then?
We’ll plant beneath the grow light where it’s warm
To keep our seedlings safe from cold and storm
And more conveniently to watch them sprout.
Then, when the time comes, we will put them out.”

“Daddy, wouldn’t planting now be fun?
I want to work outdoors, and feel the sun,
Bury pea seeds two, three inches deep–
While billowy clouds stray through the sky like sheep
And tender breezes touch my hands and face–
And put our little broccoli plants in place…
Our seeds are sprouts now, and they’re growing strong.
Let’s put them in the earth, where they belong!”

“Not yet, the nights are cold still, and one frost
Would kill them. All our labor would be lost.
We’ll put them out by day to feel wind blow
For that influences the way they grow
It makes the plants invest in a strong stalk.
Then… shall we go out and take a walk?
I want to feel the stirring earth rejoice
And hear again the pine brook’s babbling voice.”

“Daddy, surely now it must be time!
It feels like summer with so much sunshine
The wind that sways the buttercups feels warm
Last week, when the baby goats were born,
We cleaned the shed of hay, droppings and mold
You said that that stuff would be ‘garden gold’
Isn’t it about time we tilled it in?
Isn’t it time our garden should begin?”

“Yes, son, when forsythia blossoms fall
Two weeks after peepers start to call
It’s time to plant. So let’s get spades and hoes
Make sure there’s enough space between the rows!
Water well to give them a good start…
Put Brussels sprouts a full two feet apart!
I know, it makes them seem lonely and small
But they will need it when they’re three feet tall.”

This poem is part of a collection published by the author in his book “The Rustic: Songs of Maine.”