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Garden Greetings – OpEd

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Early each day I walk to my garden. With a teamug on hand, I scout for poor young worms feasting on vegetables. I crush them. Not all of them though. I’m no freak. But I want some veggies on my table too. I don’t like the idea but I have no choice.

Each day too, I take an appreciating look at the pine trees. Always there, assuring that the world will forever be green. It is a dying hope though, what with all the deforestation going on. But hope has given to more hope in the past. It is happening over and over again.

Beyond the garden bunds, trobadour Jiminy crickets take a crack at the last dusk before it is swallowed by day. They are drowned by several birds of many kinds. It is a welcome sound.

This garden  is about 400 square meters located below the house. Alnus japonica or what most know as Alnus, provides shade, spreading scads of broad, hard, green leaves.

I love the garden, and with the onset of every summer, I find myself working in it constantly. There is much to be done: Weeds need to be pulled, leaves need to be raked, dead plants need to be carted off and piled into a compost, seeds to sow, seedlings to prick and tons more of work that leave you bathing in your sweat but feeling contented every end of the day.

All of this—the weeding, the planting, even my interest in the garden itself—has taken me a bit by surprise. I always had a garden before, and always thought of myself as the gardening type. But at my age I enjoy it better. Although writing has taken years of my life.

Long rows of Sadanga sitting beans with lush leaves and heavy pods await to be harvested. And beside them are four rows of “kalbo-oy” sweet potato, known to be the best in the Cordillera. I have round eggplants, red, yellow and green chillies, gray and golden suchinnis, and red and green lettuce.

Beyond the veggies are thousands of petroleum nut trees and Calliandra calothyrsus nitrogen fixing trees. All around are gold and yellow marigolds that ward off most insect pests. I have grape-type red tomatoes as well as cherry ones. These have more lycopene, commanding three dollars a kilo in the market. But I never sell them. I give them away to whoever asks for some.

I like sitting on the grass to watch the plants grow because it gives me hope that tomorrow is always a better day. And as hope gives more hope, the coming Christmas should be no different. As Christians celebrate the fake birthday of Jesus, we are given hope once again that God’s gift –Jesus– would make us grow to be better every day. That in this world reeking with apathy, love alone could awaken love.

And like every morning in a garden, we have a new life. A gift given again and again. This morning, this blessed morning, should be an every blessed morning.


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Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan

Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan

Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan wrote for the British Panos News and Features and GEMINI News Service, the Brunei Times, and US Environment News Service. In the Philippines, he wrote for DEPTHNews of the Press Foundation of Asia, Today, the Philippine Post, and Vera Files. A practicing environmentalist, he holds postgraduate degrees in environment resource management and development studies as a European Union (EU) Fellow at University College, Dublin, Ireland. He is currently a Fellow of Echoing Green Foundation of New York City. He now writes for Business Mirror and Eurasia Review.

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