By: Janet Mendenhall
I am perplexed by my peas. Purple hull peas are my one selfish endeavor in the Valley View Community Garden. I plant most vegetables in the community garden because I know the neighbors will use them, they are hardy enough for the West Texas heat and are easily identified when ready to harvest. I plant purple hull peas because in my opinion, they are the crowning crop of the garden.
The peas were planted 12 inches apart, coinciding with the drip holes on the drip tape that irrigates each row. I planted them at the same time and to the best of my ability at the same depth in the soil. They are all equally exposed to daily sunlight. And so I have been perplexed watching them grow. As I walked through the garden today, a few of the pea plants still look like the bean sprouts in the Dixie cup you planted in first-grade science class. And the largest plant is in full bloom and sporting a pod or two. The other plants fall somewhere in between on the pea-plant-growth spectrum. I am expecting a good crop of peas. I am hopeful for more blooms and eventually more fruit to appear. I am encouraged by the plant whose fruit has already begun to ripen, and resisting the urge to be worried about its immature neighbors. But I do wonder.
I wonder how we think about those around us, as we look up and down our rows. If we see ourselves as fruitful folks stuck amidst Dixie cup seedlings; are we boastful or judgmental? Are we quick to question, “If I am producing fruit now, shouldn’t you be as well? What is wrong with you? Too lazy to grow? Too stubborn to do your part? We had the same start, after all. We have had the same chances to grow and to thrive, the same access to resources.”
Or so it appears.
I don’t know what is different about my pea plants. But there is something. They appear to have had similar opportunities for growth, yet they are not growing similarly. There could be things that I do not know about these plants and things I cannot see that are affecting their growth. Maybe there was less nourishment in the specific place in which some found themselves planted. Perhaps something was discarded in their spot that was unhealthy and not supportive of a strong start. Someone might have walked across the soil after planting and that bit of trampling applied enough pressure to make breaking through the surface to the sunlight more difficult. I do not know what has slowed the growth of some, but I do know they are growing. And I am hopeful that with access to nourishing resources, in good time, they will produce fruit.
As I look around, I am reminded of my peas. I see sprouts and blooms and even some pea pods. And I remember that even when it seems each of our places of growth is equally full of opportunities and obstacles, all probably aren’t. And with cheerful expectation, I nurture and cultivate good fruit in my spot and up and down my row. I can’t wait to share in the bounty of the harvest.