Let me just start by saying, I am the daughter of a master gardener. No, he doesn’t hold a degree or a certificate of gardening, but my father can grow anything. He and my mother have had the most exquisite gardens for as long as I can remember. Even their back deck vegetables are always perfect.
I did not inherit that gene.
For years and years, we’ve talked about planting a vegetable garden, but we always knew it was a bad idea. As I’ve said here before, Ken has always traveled extensively, and in the summer, when he went away, we went with him. We knew we’d never get to enjoy the foods we planted, and we wouldn’t be able to properly maintain and take care of the gardens. When he was alive, my father-in-law brought us beautiful tomatoes (Katie’s favorite) and lots of corn from the farm on which he and Mom lived, and my parents have kept us well supplied with cucumbers (Morgan’s favorite). For everything else, we shopped local produce stands and the farmer’s market.
Then, everything changed…
On top of that, Ken’s company went through a major restructuring, and his entire department was shut down. Now, not only were we unable to leave our house and had no desire to go into a store or to a market, there would be no travel anywhere in the foreseeable future. It seemed like the perfect time to start a garden.
Like so many across the country, we trudged to Lowe’s (yes, gardening IS essential when food is scarce) and bought pots, plants, soil, plant food, and whatever else we needed to create our garden. We didn’t want to plunge right into digging up the yard because we wanted to ease our way into being farmers. All five of us spent an afternoon planting our favorite summer vegetables, and we couldn’t wait to see how large a bounty we’d bring in.
I must say, things went beautifully at first. We had dozens of cherry tomatoes, our peppers were popping out everywhere, and our cucumber plant was taking over the whole area. The regular tomatoes and the squash never thrived at all and were early goners, but we couldn’t wait to try the rest.
Then it came time to begin picking the vegetables. The cherry tomatoes were ready first and were absolutely perfect. We enjoyed them alone and with mozzarella cheese. We were thrilled! But the jalapeños had no taste, and the cucumbers… Well, to put it mildly, they were awful, just awful! As they got bigger, they turned white, and they never did look like my mother’s cucumbers or like the perfect green giants found in the produce section of the grocery store. I’m not sure how I can describe what they tasted like, but suffice it to say they were not edible.
Okay, maybe we just aren’t meant to grow veggies. I suppose we’ll give it another try next year, but I sure wish I knew what we had done wrong.
And isn’t life like that sometimes? We try so hard to something good, something beneficial, something that will make others happy as well as ourselves, and we come face to face with utter failure. It’s hard to handle that when it happens. It’s hard to face our failures and our faults. It’s hard to admit when something we wanted so badly takes a turn in the wrong direction.
When that happens, the only thing we can do is take a deep breath, hold our heads high, and move on. We can learn from our failures, but we should never dwell on them. Whether it’s trying to get into shape, learn a new skill, craft a piece of art, create a project at work, or find a publisher, we all have times when we fail, when we need to take a step back or even return to start. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Next year, I think we’ll give it a try at real gardening. We might have to plant 10,000 plants, but at some point, I know we will have a bountiful harvest.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).