The Journey


Carrots: Lesson Learned


William Mason                                                                                                                                                                        June 7, 2008

























































































































Nature is often our most effective teacher: She is constant and ever-mindful of man’s need for multiple learning experiences, granting them as often as necessary. One crop might fail due to inattention or poor planning, for example, but another may be sown in its place — and the new seed will produce if patiently and properly nurtured. As a result, the observant learn an important life lesson: Success has two parents — enlightened labor and patience.


And this simple truth has been made clear to me by my own carrot experience in what has proven to be a singularly revealing event.


Digging up my own carrots — the ones that had sprouted and were well on their way to becoming wonderful additions to my family’s diet — provided the evidence: My own impatience and unwillingness to listen to and accept what had been clear, unmistakable impressions ultimately destroyed what would have been a highly successful endeavor. Moreover, there was no turning back; once the damage had been done, it could not be undone.


If I wanted to grow carrots — and it was still possible to do so — there was only one option available: Begin again, which brings me to the day I first harvested parsley.


As I cut the parsley, my mind would not let go of the carrots. It was as if those young, tender sprouts were trying to make sure I would not forget the lesson I had been taught. But that was not all: I was also being vigorously encouraged to sow more carrot seeds and, if sown, to drink heavily from the cool, still waters of patience.


“Look, you know you want to grow carrots,” said a small, gentle voice in my head. It was a familiar presence, much like the voice who had warned me against digging up my original carrot patch. “Just bite the bullet. Plant them.”


“There’s no space,” I thought. “The only space available is being reserved for the pumpkin patch, and I have to plant Marley’s pumpkin.”


“Space?” questioned the voice. “Are you kidding? Sow the carrot seed where you were going to pant the pumpkin” …


“But … hold on,” I interrupted. “I’m not sure” …


This persistent impression, however, would not be interrupted nor hear any of my objections: “No, you hold on. Sow the carrots where you were going to put the pumpkin, and prepare an area for the pumpkin near the tomato plant. There’s plenty of room in the area you cleared for the garden’s extension, although you will need to prepare another bed for planting.”


“More work,” I sighed. “Do I really want to do that much more work?”


“Yes,” replied the voice, with firmness. “It will be well worth it. And then you will have parsley, pumpkin, and carrots.”


“Okay, I’ll think about it,” I answered.


“Oh, by the way,” the voice quietly cautioned, “there is one other thing.”


“And that would be?” I asked.


“Don’t dig up the carrots,” the voice softly admonished. “This time, be patient. No matter what happens, be patient … and don’t forget to water.”


Of course, water had been the issue around which doubts about the first carrot planting began to arise. I had to respond: “Great, an impression with a sense of humor.”


Because I very much desired to grow carrots, I ultimately yielded to the promptings and sowed new seed on Saturday, May 17.  I carefully prepared a new bed in what was to have been the pumpkin patch, this time using the more traditional row configuration around which I created a shallow trough for water. Once sown, I placed a protective, tented layer of chicken wire over the bed to keep out the many critters who visit our backyard. With the carrot seeds safely placed in bed and carefully watered, I turned my attention to marking and preparing another area for the pumpkin seeds — which will be planted sometime in mid-June within the garden extension, near the tomato plant.


During the coming days I watched ever-so-closely for any signs of growth in the carrot bed, even though I knew it might be at least ten or eleven days before the carrot seeds sprouted and broke the surface. And every time I checked the planting I heard the impression, “Don’t dig up the carrots.”


Disaster struck on day six.


It was a memorable Thursday. Thunderstorms rolled through the eastern portion of the San Gabriel Valley during the mid- to late-afternoon, dropping incredible amounts of hard, driving rain along with a significant amount of hail. In an instant, streets were flooded, intersection lights stopped working, and two lanes of the San Bernardino Freeway were closed in each direction. Rain continued falling off-and-on for the next two days — and not in small amounts.


When I arrived at home late that Thursday afternoon the first thing I did was survey the garden for any damage. The young, fragile watermelon and cantaloupe vines from the first plantings had taken a hard hit: Many, many leaves had been viciously torn by the hail, and the ground had been soaked beyond capacity; similar damage was clearly visible on the leaves of the tomato and pepper plants. As for the exposed earth in the garden extension, it was badly pitted with small craters from driving rain and hail.


Sheer size had been the saving grace for the peppers, tomato plant, and melon vines from the initial plantings: The young watermelon and cantaloupe vines were just big enough to survive the onslaught; the tomato and pepper plants were well developed and could probably have taken more. Nevertheless, in spite of their size, even the tomato and peppers would need a recovery period in order to overcome the effects of that Thursday’s thunderstorms.


However, my second watermelon planting — which had been sown nearly two weeks before and had broken the surface on the same day I replanted the carrots — was devastated. With the new, tender leaves of the young sprouts having been torn to shreds by hail along with the sprouts themselves being drowned in far too much water, I knew it would be difficult to save them … but I tried. Every day I checked on them, and every day I had to remove a sprout, sometimes two or three. Eventually, I had to replant that particular watermelon bed — all of it.


I didn’t even want to look at the carrot bed. And what I found there seemed to justify my hesitancy. Although there were no sprouts to take a beating, it was obvious the ground itself had taken a severe pounding. Because the bed had been newly prepared, the craters caused by the rain and hail seemed much larger and even more devastating than those in the garden’s extension, and the ground appeared to have been subjected to more water than I would have provided during an entire season. I was certain that much of the seed had been washed away and there was too much water for what had been left behind.


I was frustrated, disappointed … Replanting for a second time was not something I was interested in doing. “Dig ’em up!” I said to myself. “This is hopeless. Pumpkins. That’s what was to have been planted here, and that’s what I’m gonna plant.”


But my persistent impression was standing guard, waiting for me to entertain just such a proposition. “Don’t dig up the carrots,” I was softly cautioned. “Do you remember what happened last time? You should at least wait a few more days.”


“Yeah, but look at this,” I replied. “The ground is absolutely soaked, and there’s probably not much seed left anyway.”


Again, ever-so-tenderly, the impression reaffirmed what had been offered: “Don’t dig up the carrots. Just wait and see.”


“Okay,” I thought to myself. “I’ll wait. I certainly don’t want a repeat of what happened last time.”


Every single day I checked those carrots, hoping to see some encouraging sign. Unfortunately, the ground continued to bear the scars of the pounding it had taken, including what seemed to be permanent, overwhelming amounts of moisture.


But I remained patient, even hopeful: I remembered what had happened before and believed — or at least hoped — there were carrots germinating under the surface; it was only a matter of time.


Day eleven, Tuesday, arrived: Surely this was the day; after all, I had expected to see carrots sprouting the day before, Monday. Tuesday had not been a particularly great day at work, and I wanted to see some results somewhere. And although I approached the carrot bed wanting to see sprouts, I was not sure they would actually be there. “What will I do if there are no carrot sprouts?” I wondered. Almost immediately I provided the answer: “I will wait another day.” Enthusiastic about waiting I was not, but I was committed to waiting, so wait I would.


As my eyes fell upon the carrot bed, I saw something — what appeared to be a thin, green line of fluff occasionally broken by the smallest micro-patch of bare ground. Because I had planted the carrot seeds so close together, the denseness made sense, but I wasn’t sure: I had never seen carrots break the surface before, so I did not know what to expect. Soon I noticed the thin, green line was very straight, following the indentations I had prepared for the seeds. And as I knelt on the ground to examine the green fluff more closely, it became clear I was looking at a row of healthy, developing carrots breaking through the surface. Just then my old, friendly, persistent impression called to me: “Never dig up the carrots.”


I smiled as I gently nodded my head: It was clear my friend understood me, and I now understood my friend.





































































































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(c) Copyright 2008 William Mason. All rights reserved: The work titled "Carrots: Lesson Learned" (the reflection directly above) may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without written permission from the author.




Last Updated On 2011-10-19 23:45

(c) 2010 William Mason. All rights reserved.