The garden looked beautiful on Thursday. The Green Thumbs celebrated our first harvest of strawberries and spinach. Tiny green tomatoes and peppers were emerging on healthy plants. The beans were leafy and green. The blueberry bush was abundant and full with bundles of green fruit. The lettuce was standing up proudly. The squash and cucumbers were holding their own.
When I left Plot No. 6 in the community garden, I thought all was right with the world. Growing a garden is a cinch with no problems, I said to myself. Why did people ever stop feeding themselves and depend on the grocery store shelves to stock “fresh” food from faraway places?
But by evening, dark clouds rolled into the area. My two sons and I stood at the sliding glass door in our kitchen watching marble-sized hail start tapping our deck. The ice pellets increased. The noise was incredible. We were mesmerized watching the stones bounce in the grass and accumulate until the yard and deck looked splotchy as if a winter snow had fallen. The rumble passed, and then more ice fell. When the sun finally emerged, some people saw double rainbows in the sky.
My petunias were cut to pieces. Yard debris was everywhere. The pear tree in the front of the house lost a carpet of leaves. The red petals in my rose garden were kicked to the ground. Bright Gerber daisies were knocked over. The yard was a mess.
First thing the next morning, I joined others at the community garden to assess the damage.
The Green Thumbs lost some of our blueberries. The strawberry bushes were beat up silly. We had to bury some of the fruit that got knocked off the stems. The lettuce was flattened. Many of the other plants had cut leaves.
Like The Green Thumb families, many of our neighbors at the community garden were combing their plots, gently raking and inspecting what might be lost. No one spoke.
As the rakes moved, I admired the resilience of the growers. They were like plant paramedics who arrived to give medical attention to the wounded crops. They worked with confidence knowing that with extra care and attention, most of the hurt plants will recover from the harsh injuries that Mother Nature thrust upon them.
We are relieved that most of the plants will survive. But the storm reminded all of us how the weather can be our friend or our foe. I like to think the peace offering of the double rainbow is a sign that the summer will be kind to our garden Plot No. 6, and Plot No. 16 where we plan to expand.
I’ll be looking for a rainbow of colors in the garden: red tomatoes, yellow squash, fleshy pink watermelons, green cucumbers, purple onions, orange pumpkins and dark blue blueberries.
But no more hail, please.