I was 21 years old in 2009. Arlene Dekam, the mother of 5 with kind eyes who drove me from clinical site to clinical site on snowy city streets and fed me zucchini from her garden, slid a battered copy of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver across a desk at the GVSU College of Nursing in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Keep it,” she whispered. “I read it every year.”

<Thunderbolt> This is how my journey into gardening began.

Gardeners. Sometimes we sift through the recycling to find containers to grow in; other afternoons we obsessively pour over seed catalogues and hatch complicated, impossible garden plans. We bring clippers on walks “just in case.” We save our seeds and share our garden abundance with our friends and neighbors. And always, whether in our conscious or unconscious minds, we’re thinking about our gardens.

“Growing a garden this year?” someone asks.

“Of course,” we all answer indignantly. As if planting a garden is akin to breathing.