The winter had been long and labored. Though the promise of spring was just around the corner, life seemed muddy and a bit barren. Truly she knew how blessed she was– yet the ongoing challenges that she was now facing were daunting and yes, utterly exhausting. Many days she awoke, wondering how on earth she would ever make it through.
On an early spring day much like today, she decided to start a few seedlings for her cherished vegetable garden. Out came the seeds, carefully stored from the previous season. Tomatoes and peppers, mostly. A couple eggplants. Flipping casually through the remaining packets, she found one of her personal favorites– a French heirloom variety of pumpkin seed.
With such a long growing season needed to produce fruit, perhaps I should start a pumpkin seedling indoors now, she thought. If I can really nurture and baby this little vine, certainly I’ll get the best pumpkin harvest ever this year.
And so it was that along with the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, a pumpkin seed was sown. Soon enough the seedling emerged, and the vine began to grow.
As April weather warmed the earth, she decided to transplant her fledgling seedlings outdoors under greenhouse-like cloches. There, in the warm environment protected from all discomfort, surely her little pumpkin vine would thrive. And it certainly seemed to be content there. As Memorial Day arrived– signaling the much-anticipated time to plant summer crops, her vine was already well established.
After sowing the remaining summer crops in the garden– beans, carrots, cucumbers, alongside both summer and winter squash– she noted that there was still a little room for one more vine. Remembering the heirloom pumpkin variety, she carefully sowed another seed near the established vine, which was already beginning to blossom.
The new pumpkin seedling emerged just as the summer weather turned harsh. A scorching heat settled in the valley, and the soothing relief of rain was but a distant memory. Strict water regulations were imposed on the community.
As time went on, she checked on the two pumpkin vines often, noting with pleasure that the first had set fruit and was growing a lovely baby pumpkin, cushioned on the soft garden soil. She knew the second vine had a difficult task ahead of it, as it fought against the unrelenting sun and the scarcity of water. But upward still it grew, tangling and twisting itself around the metal garden trellis.
About midsummer as she walked through her garden, she discovered that the second vine had also set fruit. But it couldn’t have been more illogically placed on the plant. Three feet off the ground; growing from a tendril at a ridiculous and precarious angle. Though the vine was securely wrapped around the sturdy trellis, she wondered with amusement how anything could thrive under such arduous circumstances.
But thrive it did. And soon her amusement turned to astonishment as the second vine’s fruit grew bigger and bigger. Clearly visible from her kitchen window, she chuckled every time her eyes locked on the enormous pumpkin, which seemed to be greeting her jauntily as it jutted out from the vine high above the other garden plants below.
In time the summer days began to cool, and soon autumn arrived. As frosty mornings’ glistening fingers began to touch the verdant garden bounty, she returned for one last harvest.
As she placed the two beautiful specimens side by side, she was stunned. The first vine’s fruit– the one she had given every care and protection to in its formative weeks– was half the size of the fruit of the second vine. And the second pumpkin, which had fought and endured much difficulty during its growing season was not only twice the size of the first, but vastly heavier– weighing in at nearly 30 pounds to the other’s 12.
Looking at the two with bemusement, she questioned how this was even possible.
And a quiet voice within whispered:
Know thou, my daughter, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.