Growing up my dad was always cultivating things in the backyard. At one point or another there were tomatoes, corn, carrots, peas, oranges, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, pumpkins and a consistent assortment of herbs. The green figs stand out in earliest memory, honey-sweet and salmony pink on the inside. The plum tree had deep violet bark and a knotty, convoluted trunk. Its fruit was of the tartest variety, but in springtime its spindly branches were sprinkled with delicate blossoms whose petals fell away in the slightest wind. And right around the time school started again, the apples started falling to the ground, green, blushed with deep red. We'd haul them back to the house in buckets after dinner, and I'd help my mother measure oatmeal and brown sugar for apple crisp. I miss that away at school - having a "bit of earth," in the words of Mary Lennox. There's something almost noble, about gardening, perhaps it's the requisite patience or maybe it's simply the pure and basic reliance on nature. Up at school I've been gingerly tending a windowsill garden since the spring, learning along the way just how green my thumb isn't. Too much water, too little water, too much sun, seeds that never sprout, pesky bugs that won't go away. Oh, my. But I finally have some healthy new seedlings in tiny terracotta pots, complete with homemade plant stakes (Popsicle sticks + chalkboard paint). And the zinnias are even ready for a larger home!