It hadn’t rained, but the plants were still drinking morning dew. The split-leaf philodendron in an oversized pot on my back patio had a large dew drop dangling from the end of its lime green leaf and I watched it catch the gaze of the morning sun as I walked by in bright blue garden shoes.
Good morning Rosemary. Good morning Thyme. G’day cilantro, I said to its neighbors.
Down the hill I tromped, an empty wire basket in one hand to collect the eggs — a stainless steel canister of chicken scraps in the other.
They saw me coming.
Like a pack of teenage girls when their favorite boy band arrives, they ran to the back door of the coop built by my husband’s hands, clucking and cackling and carrying on. There is something flattering about it, I suppose, even though I know they are most interested in that shiny object in my hand.
I creak open the wooden back gate, lift the “chicken” door that they’ve piled against and out they come, one by one: Mary Magda”hen,” Saint “Bird”adette, “Feather” Locklier… and the rest of the girls (and their rooster, Fluff. He’s beautiful. And he knows it.)
The scraps fall to the post-winter chicken yard with a thud. They eagerly inspect the goods — a mango core, toddler-rejected oatmeal and so on. Not an overly picky bunch, they scratch and peck with the purrs of contented poultry and off I go to the garden leaving them to their feast.
The potato bed needs weeding; the bib lettuce is ready to harvest. There is something so satisfying about perfectly-lined rows of edible green leaves that magically sprout from the warm, black earth. I love the smell of the garden, of soil, of morning, of the damp cedar wood around the raised garden beds.
The tall trees of the forest peek over to see: yes, the tomato plants are doing alright. The birds sing in echoing unison. The sun rises higher in the sky.
My shoulders turn pink as I pick the weeds and toss them into the canister to throw to the chickens. A panting 70-lb golden lab tries to sit in my lap while I pluck weeds from under strawberry leaves. Excuse me, I say. She doesn’t.
Excuse me, I say again — this time to the Welsummer hen who has settled herself into the egg box for laying. She gives me the eye: can I get some privacy? I quickly gather the turquoise and bright white and dark brown and wheat-colored eggs from the empty straw nests and place them carefully into my wire basket.
And back up the hill I go: with eggs in my basket and grass on my shoes; dirt under my nails and a prayer under my breath: Thank you. For these things to nurture that nourish us. For these things to love that give us peace.
For seeds and soil and Saturdays.