Elizabeth Hull

2009-2010 Live Deliberately Essay Contest

2010-HullElizabeth Hull, age 16
Washington Academy
East Machias, Maine

When I was little, my mom and I would go outside into the afternoon sun. With a plan in mind and the sun in our faces, we began to plant our garden. It was such a wonderful world for me.

Nothing could compare to that world of worms and fresh green shoots. The dirt would squish under my bare feet as my mother taught me the potato stomp. With a childlike care, I would drop in a seed potato and use my feet to drag dirt over them. Together, my mom and I would plant rows of seeds until we turned red from the sun.

As I grew older, I began to grow my own garden. I would plant pumpkin and spaghetti squash seeds inside and, as the weeks went by, watch them reach for the lamplight with young, spindly stems. When the weather warmed, I would mound up the dirt in the garden to plant big sunflower seeds or delicate carrot seeds. The squash I transplanted quickly took over the garden and crept over onto the lawn. Big, orange flowers bloomed and were followed by yellow vegetables that grew to soccer ball-sized squash over the course of a summer. Gardening soon became more than a pastime. It became an interest that combined my love for art and science with the mysteries of nature.

Working in nature, I discovered new things every day that made me question modern medicine, organic gardening, and sustainable food sources. In today’s world, how and where produce is grown means a great deal. The health benefits of locally grown produce surpasses that of imported foods and large market produce. This validates home gardening as way of life.

In the fall, when it is time to harvest, the crisp air brings the threat of a frost to my garden. Before the frost can settle on my garden, I would pick all of the squash and store them in the garage for the winter. After the frost sets in, my mom and I would wait till Thanksgiving before harvesting a bountiful wheelbarrow full of carrots. I realize that if gardening has taught me anything, it would be that in order to get good things out of life you must first be willing to give of yourself. And, when you give, you get so much more in return. Gardening is my most deliberate act in life because nothing seems more deliberate than planting a garden, and see not only the plants, but my future growing as well.

Sydney Eddison of the Horticulture magazine said it best when she said, ” Gardens are a form of autobiography.” Little did I know, the day I began gardening with my mother is the day I began writing my autobiography and my future, and as I age and grow old, I will take great comfort and joy in knowing that my life enabled my children and grandchildren to enjoy nature just as much as I do.