Friday, June 19, 2009

Of Birthdays and Beanstalks: Reaping What We Have Sown

The birthday bean debacle, it turned out later, was a mitigated (as opposed to unmitigated) disaster. While not fun at the time, those beans showed me something. They humbled me, like the mother in the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, or the naysaying parents in Crockett Johnson’s book, The Carrot Seed. “Will the beans grow?” No, was my arrogant reply to my five-year-old daughter’s hopeful query. About a week later guess who was the first to notice and identify the clusters of bean seedlings that had sprung up in the lawn?

We transplanted a handful of bean seedlings to areas of the yard that would not be mowed, including the sparsely planted garden box. Despite my husband’s plan to mow the bean plants down, fate intervened. The task of mowing (which I actually enjoy) fell to me. I mowed most, but not all of the remaining bean plants, chopping them to smithereens. Three plants I spared, leaving them standing in the middle of the lawn. A few more seeds have sprouted since.

Another lesson for me. Parsley reminded me that hardship and perseverance can yield growth (see the earlier post from November 2008). These beans evoked the parable of the sower that Jesus told, with the final results still unknown. And they also admonished me: I was too quick to quash the curious hopes of a child’s optimism. And I had to admit to my daughter that I was wrong.

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