With certainty of heat settling in the afternoon, Lady (loyal pup and pal), inspired me to enjoy some time in the yard Wednesday morning. Bearable humidity offered her chance for play in the grass as I filled my garden basket with cherry, roma, and big boy tomatoes. Like sweet babies I conceived (planted), bore and birthed (watered and weeded), and carefully guided to maturity (time for picking) - the tomatoes pictured below were ready to leave the nest; to fulfill their life's destiny (to be eaten fresh or canned and stored in my basement until winter). Success. Being parent to a garden rather than to children is much easier. And tastier. Aside from consumption, a perk of "garden babies" over real ones? I entered into garden parenthood with book-know but no real experience -- and it shows -- but next year I get to start all over.

A few years ago I went camping with a group of folks who constantly struggled to keep conversation flowing and with whom I had nearly nothing in common. Christ, were they boring. As an aid, my used copy of Book of Questions: A Conversation Starter accompanied us on the trip. Around the campfire we passed the book around, asking and answering questions for entertainment. Someone read a question along these lines:
If you could, would you want to be able to predetermine the characteristics, interests, talents, education, career, etc. of your unborn child?
As my fellow campers quietly answered, one at a time, in an orderly, clock wise fashion (I love that my good friends never play games like this -- we all yell and answer over each other in the most annoying yet delightful way) they said ridiculous things like "Oh, yes. Profession? Um...a doctor or a lawyer." Or, "Sure. I'd predetermine they had good style." Ugh. Here are some of the private thoughts I can remember having in that moment...

  • What would I predetermine for my unborn child? Uh, that it be born to different parents.
  • Hmm? Profession? Just not a lawyer.
  • These born-again bores are all saying "yes" to this question??! Oh, yes, of course, because this scenario would be possible only with faith, not science. (Is sarcasm legible in blog-thought form?)
  • So, there are or are not smores?
  • Eew. Bug.
  • If I ever had a kid (IF!), I would just want them to be happy. Whatever was right for them would be right for me. If I could predetermine a true sense of self or simple but genuine contentment for life -- sure, why not...

Yes, the voice in my head is a rude but witty, sappy and selfish, judgy atheist. We're working on it.

So, in the end, there were smores, I stopped spending time with those folks, I kept the book but still find that question (and many others) to be irritating, and I still don't want kids. But my garden? Well...I am its mother. I will continue to predetermine the characteristics of the plant children born in my yard by predetermining what I plant. Each year I will be able to predetermine characteristics of my unborn plants based on the good or bad characteristics I chose the year prior. I get to start all over. Next year? I'll plant non-hybrid tomatoes. Like these. That's right, I just surf the internet to find what I want my new kids to look and taste like. Ah, parenthood.

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