I have not been active on FFN for a while, and for good reason. A discipline problem has made 2009 pretty stressful at times. Due to ongoing legal issues there’s not much more I can say about it now, however the story will be told in a future blog. I will say that as 1st Assistant Chief I have tried to shoulder some of the load borne by the Chief, and help resolve the problem.

But I digress.

My wife and I have taken up gardening, and we are on our second year of tending a modest patch of land filled with vegetables, flowers and of course, weeds. Gardening is not a new thing in our families as our fathers were avid gardeners. My grandfather planted acres of gladiolus and dahlia flowers as a hobby, and my wife’s grandfathers were farmers. But until recently we have not kept up the family tradition of tending to flowers and vegetables grown at home. Last year saw our first attempt at a garden, with passable results.

This year we have about 300 square feet of soil that has been dug, tilled, and raked into beds. A fence surrounds the garden to keep out the dogs and deer. There is a compost pile just outside the fence. We’ve planted potatoes, onions, radishes, tomatoes, lettuce, and beets – to name but a few. We planted early, and as a result had to cover the “babies” up on several occasions when frost was predicted. Newspapers, old sheets, plastic runners and bags have been pressed into service to protect our crops.

We have located the garden on the path between house and garage so that we cannot pass by without taking notice. Going to work in the morning, or coming home in the evening, we always stop to take a look at the result of our efforts. Most times I grab a shovel or hoe or the watering can and putter about in the garden before resuming my journey. It can take as much as a half hour to get between the garage and the garden.

Of course, one of the great benefits of gardening is seeing the results of one’s labor. Whether it’s planting seeds, or buying plants at the nursery, or turning over a new garden patch, the immediate feedback of knowing one did a job well is gratifying. Too often in the emergency services we never see the result of our labor. How did the patient make out? Was the homeowner happy with our response? There are cases where we know we did a good job, but more often we never know if we did a great job, or just got by.

Working the soil is such a basic thing, and has been the focus of human toil for millenia. To me the simple act of cultivating soil is a very relaxing, peaceful thing to do. I am often reminded of the pioneers whose very lives depended on their skill and luck at planting, cultivating and harvesting. I find that it connects me with my past, particularly my father and grandfather. I often wonder what they would think if they saw me in the garden, in boots and hat, worrying about the weeds or turning over the compost heap.

My visits to FFN will increase, now that the worst appears to be behind us. I want to catch up with some of the hot topics that have been discussed. I will also be tending the garden, making sure the plants are watered and the weeds are kept at bay. And I will continue to serve the Department to the best of my ability, knowing that in times of question and uncertainty, there is a small spot of land to which I can go for peace and comfort, and renewal.

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Comment by Ben Waller on June 15, 2009 at 11:28pm
Joe,

Good luck with the garden and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

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