The Laughing Place might seem like the whim of a deranged city dweller with too much money and time on her hands. If you have been following along with me, you know that neither assumption is true. I work full time, am finishing a PhD, am raising a young child, and volunteer at both her school and our church. We have a good income by many standards, but new tires for the old car are an expense we must dig deep to accommodate.
My housemate and I own a 1500 square foot tract house in a large metropolitan area in Southern California. Though our corner lot comprises slightly more ground than that of our nearest neighbors’, that plot of land amounts to just .15 of an acre. Our house takes up most of that land, leaving a front yard that slopes toward the house, and a back yard that features concrete and brick patios, and includes a high slope above a cinder block wall. Until I undertook our “little” garden project, the hill was inaccessible, covered with weeds, and home to both rats and voles. Nope, we don’t live in a dump, just a nice suburban neighborhood near a canyon that produces a lot of wild life that no one wants to see on Animal Planet.
One day I looked at an old wheelbarrow and saw a place to garden. Just a little spot to put something I could grow that we could eat. We have flowers and other beautiful plants in our courtyard and a small artful raised garden in back, things to feed the soul.
But the little bit of land we have on this Earth was not producing food. And my memories of the gardens of my grandfather and dad began to call to me. Maybe a broken wheelbarrow could bring some of that good feeling to my own home.
Herbs seemed like a great choice. The plants are typically small and easy to grow. Raise your hand if you have NEVER had a little pot of parsley on the windowsill at least once in your life. Thought not. Every grocery store in our area has containers of herbs for sale, beginning as early as the latter part of February.
I found a spot in view from our kitchen window, cleared some weeds, hoped there would be enough sun to grow better things, and got my trowel. Add some dirt, a few 2 inch herb starts, the rusting wheelbarrow with the broken axle, and VOILA! Annie’s Herb Garden was born.
Well, yeah, the area needs some more weeding, I was going for FOOD here folks. And it worked! Cilantro for homemade salsa, thyme for seasoning pork, oregano for soup, chives for chive and cheddar biscuits. My teeny little crops made life a little nicer. I felt connected to what we were eating in a new way, and I felt that our ground was doing more than surrounding the house. And I felt like a gardener.