Sweet (Pea) Melancholia

I picked enough sweet peas to compose a bouquet yesterday. It’s been a few years since the last time I was able to drink deeply of that ultra-sweet and unique, some say old-fashioned, flower scent.

sweet peas first bouqet 4-29-14

When I mention my sweet-peas, many people think at first that I am talking about sugar snap peas, the edible-podded peas that were developed only within the last 50 years or so. They are sweet to eat, while these ornamental cousins are sweet to sniff. If the seeds are allowed to develop, one can see by how tough, dry, and stringy they and their pods are that they are not anything you’d want to put in your mouth.

Our sunny garden space is at a minimum, which is why I don’t often plant cool-weather crops that will take up space into the months when I want to plant tomatoes or peppers.

In this particularly bad drought year, I’ve been thinking more seriously that the swimming pool should go. We could fill it in with good soil and immediately double our full-sun gardening potential. We may yet do that, but it’s a big project for which we’d have to get a permit, and this summer will already be quite busy with other events.

The smell of these flowers took me back to my first experience of sweet peas, sometime in the 70’s or 80’s when we lived on 1/3 acre with more than enough sunshine for anything I could set my fancy on. Among the many things I left in the past are my plantings of soybeans and chicken greens, okra and Ogallala strawberries with their foxy Rocky Mountain flavor, asparagus and artichokes. Here is a photo of me standing between the asparagus and the melons.

G garden 82

I am a firm believer in digging in the soil of contentment to find happiness, but I do have my periods of homesickness, the worst of which came on me within a couple of years of moving from our country place into town. I missed my garden so!

More recently I’ve had the good sense to realize that I could never keep up with that much garden or all of the choices I had in that season of life. I seem to need even more restrictions on my opportunities than I ever did, or I get overwhelmed by the decision-making, not to mention the work. I’ve even thought at times how nice it could be to have — gasp! — no garden at all.

I wonder if the time I spent this week, poking around for sad feelings in parched soil, has actually helped me to get over my losses again. Maybe it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I’ve decided to just enjoy sniffing this Spring’s sweet peas. (And I wish this could be a scratch-and-sniff picture I’m sending your way!)

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13 thoughts on “Sweet (Pea) Melancholia

  1. We just filled in our pool last Saturday (after which it rained torrentially for 2 days). The liner was old and it started ripping badly during the three months we were out of our house last summer after a tree fell on it, and we really haven’t had time to deal with it until now. It was kind of a bittersweet decision, but my husband was spending soooo much time on it, and the chemicals are so expensive, and since we live about 40 miles from our children and grandchildren, they can’t come often enough to make it worthwhile.

    Now we are thinking about what we can plant there, and hoping ALL the topsoil hasn’t washed away.

    AMDG, Janet

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  2. I love sweet peas and I mean to grow them every year and I always forget to plant them in the fall. I love seeing the picture of you in your garden. I am having the same struggle this year with our garden. I have thought the same thing about the pool as well.
    We have talked about moving a bit, so I know how hard it must have been for you.
    Anyway I love it looking at yours.

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  3. Those sweet peas are so gorgeous!
    I’m on the cusp of making the decision myself about whether to try to stay here on my little hobby farm or move into town. Wrestling with many feelings like all the memories of my three youngest children growing up here over the last 25 years. And yet they don’t live here now so I only have the memories, which I can take with me wherever I go. It’s such a final decision, but moving might be less of a burden on my older step-children who are helping me make it financially for the time being. So I understand some of what you’re going through. I’d like to think I could find another place that I could make feel like home to me and like “Grandma’s house” for my two little grandgirls. Life is full of change!

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  4. Beautiful colors…life does have seasons, doesn’t it ? Angel planted sweet peas as a surprise for me in between the blueberries one year. Maybe you could have a little pond right in the middle of the pool? Some years aren’t gardening years…but the option seems a gift.

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  5. Oh, how I wish I could sniff a whiff of those sweat peas. They’re really lovely. I planted some heirloom sweet peas to climb part of my garden fence. I hope to have such beauty as you do this spring.

    Love the photo of you in your garden. What memories.

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  6. Sweet peas are such a delicious fragrance. And I have not smelled it for years, not since a neighbor at our summer cottage moved away…..I am nearly 70 years old and used to garden so much and loved it dearly. In 2008 I injured my shoulder (part of the cause was using a hand hoe to dig up wome 4’by4′ raised beds). With physical therapy i have a full range of motion, but really only garden on my deck now….But I still have wonderful shrubs and fruit trees and perennials which give me great happiness. I overlook the weeds, though some are milk week which is also lovely and fragrant and beloved of the monarch butterflies of which we have only a few now. But one lives in hope! Peace and Joy to you!

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  7. I wish I could come to an acceptance of the stage I am at, and be ok with myself. My garden of raised beds is at the back of our property, and it is needing my attention so badly. Many things in my yard, house, life, etc. need attention. But, it seems that all I can do is keep food on the table, enough laundry done, and care for Sam and the girls. I often fantasize about living in town. When I was a teenager we moved to town, because my mom could not keep up with all of the demands of the farm. We did not sell land or anything (we lived in an old farm house on a farm that my grandfather leased and farmed wheat on), but our life took on two different realities. The farm life, the all inclusive/ almost hermit like lifestyle went away. It’s a real choice- to move into town. In my case, I sometimes think that I would do better with the city. But, when I almost get there my heart grieves. I am a country girl. But, I so struggle with all it’s demands.
    I have been loving your posts lately. Thanks

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  8. Those are beautiful sweet peas! I always associate them with the cottage in Michigan where we would vacation growing up – a happy memory.

    I also sometimes miss the gardens we have left behind. I spent a lot of time, labor and money on a couple gardens in the Midwest and East Coast. I sometimes question how much to spend on gardening in a space we’ll probably leave shortly. In between time and water constraints and an already manicured front garden, I’ve planted very little here. But I can usually justify the expense as a gift to the neighborhood and my family. Your pictures here are a gift to your readers!

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  9. Your sweet-peas are so pretty and in such a variety of colors! I had no idea. I really want to make more beds for flowers mostly and some herbs but our watering has been severely limited (every two weeks on our recycle day for sprinklers) and I would have to handwater. It really needs to rain here. A lot.

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  10. I love the smell of sweat pea! I hadn’t thought of trying my hand at them in my garden. We have limited sunny spots here, but I might be able to make room. I miss my Russian (white??) olive trees from the old house. They’re in bloom now and the smell is just wonderful. I remembered that you had written about them some time ago.

    I don’t blame you with the pool. Perhaps out west they are cheaper to maintain, but here in the mid-Atlantic they are quite expensive money pits. While I sometimes miss mine (especially now that our air conditioning has broken), overall I am glad to be rid of it. However, there are many times I truly regret moving away from our old house, which was in part to rid ourselves of the pool. I wish I had more seriously pursued filling it in.

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