We have this little back yard, a typical lot size for this area, and a garden that expands a little every year. I remember our first summer here, now four years ago, and we were so proud of the garden we cultivated. Looking back, it was probably about 5X5, but to minds shaped through years of apartment-dwelling, it was an idyllic paradise, thick with basil and echinacea plants. We even had dragonflies and it made my heart swell with pride to see bees choosing our plants - our plants! - to pollinate. I felt like St. Francis, and I imagined myself a benevolent figure, extending my arm to the various flying, jumping and crawling creatures, a gesture to be read by them as, "By all means, please partake."
As this is our forth year, we have a learned maybe a little more about how to coax blossoms and fruit out of our little patch, and that little patch has grown a bit more every year, to the point where it now takes up about a third of our backyard. Last year, we could not get sunflowers to take no matter how hard we tried and I desperately wanted them: as soon as they'd grow a little, they would get unceremoniously beheaded by squirrels, who would leave chewed bits and sad yellow petals behind as something like looked like a warning to me, like something a mafia henchman would do. Why they were warning me, I don't know, and perhaps I'm reading too much aggressiveness into their feasting habits. Couldn't they be a little less greedy, though, and share a little with the goldfinches, bees and dragonflies? And did they have to be so violent?
This year, we started to see some fat stalks rise up out of our garden that we hadn't planted. "If I didn't know better, I'd think these were sunflowers," John said. But we hadn't planted any. Sure enough, within a couple of weeks, green, bulbous tops appeared at the ends and we counted over twenty sunflowers in our tiny garden.