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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsSummer In A Garden, And Calvin, A Study Of Character - Fourth Week
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Summer In A Garden, And Calvin, A Study Of Character - Fourth Week Post by :freebie Category :Nonfictions Author :Charles Dudley Warner Date :May 2012 Read :1430

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Summer In A Garden, And Calvin, A Study Of Character - Fourth Week

Orthodoxy is at a low ebb. Only two clergymen accepted my offer to come and help hoe my potatoes for the privilege of using my vegetable total-depravity figure about the snake-grass, or quack-grass as some call it; and those two did not bring hoes. There seems to be a lack of disposition to hoe among our educated clergy. I am bound to say that these two, however, sat and watched my vigorous combats with the weeds, and talked most beautifully about the application of the snake-grass figure. As, for instance, when a fault or sin showed on the surface of a man, whether, if you dug down, you would find that it ran back and into the original organic bunch of original sin within the man. The only other clergyman who came was from out of town,--a half Universalist, who said he wouldn't give twenty cents for my figure. He said that the snake-grass was not in my garden originally, that it sneaked in under the sod, and that it could be entirely rooted out with industry and patience. I asked the Universalist-inclined man to take my hoe and try it; but he said he had n't time, and went away.

But, jubilate, I have got my garden all hoed the first time! I feel as if I had put down the rebellion. Only there are guerrillas left here and there, about the borders and in corners, unsubdued,--Forrest docks, and Quantrell grass, and Beauregard pig-weeds. This first hoeing is a gigantic task: it is your first trial of strength with the never-sleeping forces of Nature. Several times, in its progress, I was tempted to do as Adam did, who abandoned his garden on account of the weeds. (How much my mind seems to run upon Adam, as if there had been only two really moral gardens,--Adam's and mine!) The only drawback to my rejoicing over the finishing of the first hoeing is, that the garden now wants hoeing the second time. I suppose, if my garden were planted in a perfect circle, and I started round it with a hoe, I should never see an opportunity to rest. The fact is, that gardening is the old fable of perpetual labor; and I, for one, can never forgive Adam Sisyphus, or whoever it was, who let in the roots of discord. I had pictured myself sitting at eve, with my family, in the shade of twilight, contemplating a garden hoed. Alas! it is a dream not to be realized in this world.

My mind has been turned to the subject of fruit and shade trees in a garden. There are those who say that trees shade the garden too much, and interfere with the growth of the vegetables. There may be something in this: but when I go down the potato rows, the rays of the sun glancing upon my shining blade, the sweat pouring from my face, I should be grateful for shade. What is a garden for? The pleasure of man. I should take much more pleasure in a shady garden. Am I to be sacrificed, broiled, roasted, for the sake of the increased vigor of a few vegetables? The thing is perfectly absurd. If I were rich, I think I would have my garden covered with an awning, so that it would be comfortable to work in it. It might roll up and be removable, as the great awning of the Roman Coliseum was,--not like the Boston one, which went off in a high wind. Another very good way to do, and probably not so expensive as the awning, would be to have four persons of foreign birth carry a sort of canopy over you as you hoed. And there might be a person at each end of the row with some cool and refreshing drink. Agriculture is still in a very barbarous stage. I hope to live yet to see the day when I can do my gardening, as tragedy is done, to slow and soothing music, and attended by some of the comforts I have named. These things come so forcibly into my mind sometimes as I work, that perhaps, when a wandering breeze lifts my straw hat, or a bird lights on a near currant-bush, and shakes out a full-throated summer song, I almost expect to find the cooling drink and the hospitable entertainment at the end of the row. But I never do. There is nothing to be done but to turn round, and hoe back to the other end.

Speaking of those yellow squash-bugs, I think I disheartened them by covering the plants so deep with soot and wood-ashes that they could not find them; and I am in doubt if I shall ever see the plants again. But I have heard of another defense against the bugs. Put a fine wire-screen over each hill, which will keep out the bugs and admit the rain. I should say that these screens would not cost much more than the melons you would be likely to get from the vines if you bought them; but then think of the moral satisfaction of watching the bugs hovering over the screen, seeing, but unable to reach the tender plants within. That is worth paying for.

I left my own garden yesterday, and went over to where Polly was getting the weeds out of one of her flower-beds. She was working away at the bed with a little hoe. Whether women ought to have the ballot or not (and I have a decided opinion on that point, which I should here plainly give, did I not fear that it would injure my agricultural influence), 'I am compelled to say that this was rather helpless hoeing. It was patient, conscientious, even pathetic hoeing; but it was neither effective nor finished. When completed, the bed looked somewhat as if a hen had scratched it: there was that touching unevenness about it. I think no one could look at it and not be affected. To be sure, Polly smoothed it off with a rake, and asked me if it was n't nice; and I said it was. It was not a favorable time for me to explain the difference between puttering hoeing, and the broad, free sweep of the instrument, which kills the weeds, spares the plants, and loosens the soil without leaving it in holes and hills. But, after all, as life is constituted, I think more of Polly's honest and anxious care of her plants than of the most finished gardening in the world.

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