Let The Chard

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Let the weeds in their season,

and let the wildness in its time.

Let lostness,

and let wandering

and waste.

And then let it not:

let fire

and let burning,

let the destroying of every extraneous thing.

Let the wheat.

                                                                               ~ Jan Richardson

Kneeling in wet dirt, I relish the slide of grass roots from around the onions, the soil caking my fingers. Stella flits about, newly four, cheering the vegetables and announcing her birthday to the chickens. If we tend it, this plot between the barn and the road will feed us all year.

This field-turned-garden lies just beyond our kitchen window, so we can watch it grow as we wash the dishes. We tell ourselves to focus here, close to the house, this year. We rein our impatience to tackle everything. The limits of time, money, and continued occupation by the previous owner support our self-restraint. We feel ready though, for dramatic transformation.

The Garden: August 2014


For the past six months since we bought this place, I have repeated this mantra: Let the weeds.

I have glazed my eyes across armpit-high burdock, looking towards the hills. I’ve inhaled full breaths as I passed rust-eaten trucks, then exhaled slowly. Let the weeds.

I watched the lean-to fall off the barely-sided barn, and hoped the barn didn’t follow. I’ve muttered at the rubble piles and stacks of junk that, even now, move too slowly off the property. Let the weeds. Let wandering and waste. In their season.

And then let it not. One evening, I stomped around the junk trucks, filling their wrecked bodies with expletives. I slammed my boot into one blue fender, another dislodged tire, an echoing side panel. I made a dent in none of it. I wanted to beat it back the way I can trim bushes, dig out burdock, mow tall grass. Get out of here, I growled. Just sitting there, the junk seemed aggressive, oppressive.

Then I turned my back on it. Again, breathing. The golden light pooled in the distant valley. Bobolinks danced on the hay-flowered hill. Andrew pushed the wheelbarrow—full of our kids—around the corner of the barn.

In so many ways, we have moved forward, beyond lostness, into the next season. We have elbowed back weeds so the kids have a grassy area for barefoot somersaults. There are fruit trees and curved new beds across the backyard, sprouting basil and squashes. In the garden, 16 varieties of tomatoes survived a late frost, and the potato patch looks plush. Corn, beans, cucumbers, onions, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, sugar snap peas—it’s growing encouragingly.

Our first taste of this farm is the bright lights chard. Yellow, red, and purplish stalks holding the deep green leaves trigger a gasp of delight from Stella, bending over them beside me. Her birthday ladybug wings wave gently as she straightens, then traipses confidently down the row away from me, deeper into the garden.

“Mom,” she calls over her shoulder, “Come over here. The weeds are winning.”

“You’re right, Stella,” I laugh. “But not for long. I’m coming!”

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4 thoughts on “Let The Chard”

  1. Oh such specialness!! Lady bug wings, bright chard, mowed burdock, wheelbarrow load of children and junk soon to be gone!! What remains is joy and contentment!!

  2. Dear Abbie,
    Let the weeds. I found myself last night smiling thinking of your phrase as I washed all the dirty dishes of a family of seven late at night while the Copa America soccer games played on the television and Ecuador won. Let the weeds. Let the dirt and the dust and dirty dishes! Creativity always returns, always wins. Each day new.

    I love your writing. Best wishes, Alexandra

  3. Abbie,

    I can see that your work — the farming, the parenting, and the writing (!!) — are all going splendidly. What joy to take a peek into your lives after a year. Thank you for letting us all see it, and thank you for finding the time, energy and love to do it so well.

    All the very best to you and yours,


    1. Steve,
      So glad you’ve connected here and through your excellent new blog! Truly great to hear from you. Life is full to bursting, but brings me lots of joy. I hope all is well for you and your family.
      All the best,

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