Mary was born, raised and lived her whole life in the big city. She was industrious and held a good position and as she had never married, devoted herself to her work.
She was careful to make sure that she saved something out of each paycheck and had invested her savings wisely. She felt certain that her savings, together with her retirement benefits, would enable her to enjoy a comfortable if not luxurious retirement.
One day she received a call at her office from an attorney, informing her that her favorite uncle, Steve had passed away suddenly and had named her executrix of his estate. This news floored her as she had spoken with her uncle just a few days previously and he seemed to be in excellent health. She wept bitterly at the news of his death as she and he had shared many pleasant evenings together at his beautiful and historic cottage about an hour’s drive from the city.
Mary made an appointment to meet with her uncle’s attorney the following day. Much to her surprise, not only was he her favorite uncle but she was his favorite niece. Uncle Steve had left Mary the cottage in which he lived as her inheritance.
Mary loved going to visit her late uncle at his home. The cottage had been built in the early 19th century out of brick and flagstone. It was small but beautifully picturesque, almost as though out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. After the affairs of his estate were settled, Mary began driving to the cottage as frequently as she could, usually every other weekend.
Uncle Steve was a gentle and kind man and at his funeral his neighbors attested to his good nature by fully filling the church at which his services were held. All of them had the kindest words to offer Mary and his other relatives who had attended his funeral.
Like Mary, Uncle Steve had never married nor did he have any children. He was from an older generation when getting married normally preceded having offspring. But he was a very nurturing man and, perhaps because he didn’t have children of his own he turned his attention to gardening, raising some of the most wonderful vegetables in his community. He always had an oversupply of this vegetable or that and frequently brought bags of them that he had freshly harvested from his garden to neighbors who greatly appreciated them.
Mary was an excellent cook and she noticed how much tastier the meals Uncle Steve prepared were using his own garden’s vegetables, than when Mary made the same thing using store bought produce. She particularly noticed this taste difference in Uncle Steve’s carrots which were Mary’s favorite vegetable.
Mary loved carrots in whatever form they were prepared. She loved the sweet taste and beautiful color of freshly squeezed carrot juice. She loved making carrot salad with some golden raisins and slivered almonds. Her neighbors in the city always were delighted when Mary would make a carrot cake and come by to offer them a few large pieces of it. Whether they were steamed or raw, pureed or in a soufflé, there was no way that carrots could be prepared that Mary did not enjoy them.
Well, a year went by and Mary retired. Her co-workers took her out for a very festive evening at a fancy restaurant and, to Mary’s delight, the restaurant had carrots on the menu that night. After the many years they had worked together, Mary felt bittersweet about leaving her many friends at her company. But she invited them all to come and visit her at her new cottage in the country.
So in mid-winter Mary packed up the remaining things from her apartment that she would need in her new home and moved to the cottage. She looked forward to the spring when, keeping alive the tradition her Uncle Steve had started, she would plant her new garden.
As I said, Mary was a city girl and the specifics of gardening were new to her. But she bought a few books on the subject and attended a class at one of the local nurseries to get a better idea of all that was involved in vegetable gardening. Although she was inexperienced, she was bright and felt that she was up to the challenge.
Spring finally arrived and Mary, following the instructions she had received, had readied her garden to receive the plants she had bought. She had purchased tomato plants, Bibb lettuce, a variety of herbs, several different kinds of beans and chili plants and had allocated space to each of them. And she had, of course, bought an ample supply of carrot seed – the only thing that she was going to start from scratch.
The weather report suggested that the possibility of frost had ended and so Mary took her plants from the nursery and began placing them in the garden. She had done a good job adding compost to the already rich soil and stood back to admire her work as she saw these little plants all nestled in their new beds.
Of course, Mary had reserved half the garden to her favorites, her carrots and, according to the instructions on the seed packet and the advice she had received from the nursery, had created three rows of furrow into which she placed her carrot seed and then covered them gently with earth.
Mary dutifully tended her garden, watering it in the morning and evening. She could see the growth in all the other vegetables and herbs, but her rows of carrots showed no evidence that they were germinating – until two weeks went by. Mary came out one morning and saw the smallest little green growths popping their heads along the three rows where she had planted the carrots. She was overjoyed.
Pleased with herself, she continued her twice daily watering and could see how well her tomatoes and chili plants were doing, but the carrots showed a much slower growth than they. Yes, she thought, the growth is now a bit taller, but I wonder how the carrots underneath are doing. So she gently dug around one of her carrots to inspect it.
When she pulled up this carrot, she was delighted. Although the carrot was very slender, perhaps only an eighth of an inch in width and an inch and a half long, it was truly a carrot. So Mary gently replaced it in its little spot, tamped soil around it and went into the cottage do so some cleaning and washing.
A week went by and Mary noticed, when she watered the garden, that the carrot she had inspected did not seem to be doing as well as its neighbor carrots. There had been no growth in its green top – in fact, it looked as though it was beginning to wither. So she pulled that carrot out again and saw that the carrot had, in fact, died.
She wondered, “Did I not fertilize and prepare the soil properly? What did I do wrong? Are my other carrots going to have the same unfortunate end?”
So Mary pulled up the carrot next to the one that had died. To her relief, this carrot seemed to be doing just fine. While it was far from mature, it had grown to three times the size of the one she had dug up the previous week. Mary breathed a sigh of relief and put this second carrot back in it’s place.
But as another week of dutifully tending to her garden went by, Mary noticed something disturbing. The green top of this second carrot, like its neighbor, seemed to be withering. So she pulled it out from the bed and looked at it. Despite being larger than the first one, it too had died.
Mary suddenly realized why these two carrots had not matured. By pulling them up, she had interrupted their growth and so she left the rest of them alone until they were ready to be harvested. She had an abundant crop of her favorite vegetable and used them in all her finest carrot recipes.
Mary had learned an important lesson about carrots and about life.
Moral: Whether it’s butterflies or blue whales or babies or carrots, most things, if left alone, will become what Nature intended them to be. Whether or not that happens is up to us because we have the ability to make the choice.