Burnt

It’s a heavily humid mid-morning in swampy East Texas as I stand beside my dwindling garden wondering if I ought to just go ahead and pull the tomato plants from the ground. This spring’s cherry/chocolate/husky tomato yield was far and away the best season I’ve had, ‘mater-speaking, but it’s just too hot now and although the plants continue to grow (spindly like), their fruits do not. The mass-production made for deliciousness (which demanded extra creativity and research of recipes on my part) such as:

this is some made-from scratch pasta (without a pasta machine!) and tomatoes/basil from my garden
tomato galette

Sadly, as we all know, this hasn’t been a season where we can share much. Past years, I’d stuff little baggies full of tomatoes, mint, cucumber and whatever else and bring them with me wherever I went to pass out to whoever wanted any. I’ve loved this unestablished yet consistent vegetable co-op and hope very much that we can return to it next year. We, meaning whoever. I don’t know. I never know, it just happens.

I know that these plants will likely not produce any more fruit because it’s the dead of summer, but every year that this happens (which it always does) I hesitate because there’s a piece of me that thinks, “well, maybe there will be *one more* tomato/cucumber/zucchini/whatever.” But there never is. But what if? What if.

Their skeletal branches are a pitiful sight though. The right thing, I think, would be to put these suffering plants out of their misery, so I find my gloves and begin the upheaval.

A little over five years ago, I started this blog after I moved away from my hometown for the first time to a small ranch which came complete with a donkey named Bunny. It was a way to keep in touch with my family and friends back home—to tell stories about learning to homestead and how to care for large animals. I wanted to share stunning sunsets and night sounds (the kind we didn’t used to get much back in Houston…not like this, at least). Tales (tails?) of donkey wisdom unfolded as I began to finally explore the creepy-crawly underbelly of my own mental health. Donkeys, ranch life, homesteading, being a new mom—these all finally tethered me down. Well, mostly. I was a floating plastic bag that finally got caught on a chicken-wire fence and in that attachment, I’ve had to stay put within myself and finally figure shit out. My anxiety. OCD. Panic disorder. How I’ve always been a people pleaser and have mistakenly (and usually unknowingly until it was too late) placed my worth in the hands of too many people that never ever deserved me.

I yank another plant from the ground. This one was tough. Strong roots. It’s okay.

Three years ago, a device was implanted over my heart to monitor her rhythm. The device was connected to an app on my phone via bluetooth which then sent weekly reports to my cardiologist. Five days ago, my cardiologist surgically removed that device because I don’t need it anymore. I’ve had a clean report for six months. I can feel the stitches tugging beneath the bandages which I’ll need to change soon because it’s hot as hell and I can feel the sweat collecting in the gauze.

I tug another plant from the Earth. The roots ripping from the dirt sound like velcro.

Way back in grade school, I was a kid who was bullied. Frizzy hair, crooked teeth, and compulsive rituals made me an easy target—plus I never stood up for myself. I didn’t know I could. That’s why I left both Facebook and Twitter—they are platforms full of bullies but they’re the worst kind because they can hide behind screens and throw shit around without the risk of anyone coming face to face with them. I’m still on Instagram though and if you’re connected with me there, you know that I’ve become utterly obsessed with baking bread. What you might not know is that I fall asleep reading about it and when I wake up, I scrape together ingredients to try a new loaf. The possibilities are endless! And the mistakes are still (mostly) delicious.

And just like that, the tomato plants are gone. The soil is so loose. So vulnerable.

See because a lot can happen in five years and in a blog that’s supposed to be on brand or whatever, that can get uncomfortable. Your stats rise and fall based on what others are responding to. Posted more about donkeys for a while? Wow! Gained some new followers and engagement. Switched to mental health for a week? Lost a few—guess that’s not what the people want. Yet another bread post? Wow, those stats exploded! Parenting? Gardening? Trauma? Chickens? Ducks? Texas weather? Chronic illness?

Empty garden. Clean slate. Fall crop? Maybe. Not sure what’ll grow.

This space is not what it used to be—the digital one but also the physical and hell, the entire global one—and I don’t know what the future of it looks like. Do any of us? Maybe that’s what we can all focus on together right now—deciding what our future should look like. Doubling down and getting serious about who we are as a collective species and how love is what makes us. That’s it. Love. It’s in all of us but I think too many of our branches have been burnt to a crisp and although we keep trying to reach out, nothing’s growing. We need to chop it all back—pull it all up and rediscover what it means to love, inside and out. Maybe that’s writing. Listening. Singing. Marching. Creating. Planting. Baking. Crying. Crumbling. Whatever. But we’ve GOT to find love again. 

It’s down there somewhere in that dirt. I rake in straight lines hoping the earthworms will be able to wiggle around a little easier. The long rot makes for the best soil next year.

6 thoughts on “Burnt

  1. Lille Diane

    I love your beautiful brain and soul reaching writing skills. I’m here. I “see” you. You feel like my litter mate. I left all social media due to the bullying & meanness. (which means that I miss seeing your posts on IG. *insert sad face* Please keep writing and sending us these love letters. The world needs your insights & inspiration. Can you feel my hugs?

    Liked by 1 person

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