It was heartbreaking. I walked out to the garden, water in hand as usual. I looked at each plant; checked on the leaves, the stems, the soil. Checking for new blossoms, my heart lifted at the tiny little promises of fruit. Each plant received water and was cleared of unwanted intruders – weeds, slugs, Japanese beetles. And that was when I saw it.
The zucchini plant was withered and laying on the hot soil, its leaves greenish grey, its fruit wrinkled and limp. There were other zucchini vines with other blossoms, but so far this was the only one producing fruit. There had been two little baby zucchinis, one almost an inch, the other over two. I watched over them daily, bearing witness to the love of their plant mother feeding them from the earth and the sun. Now she lay dead on that same nurturing soil.
There was no C.S.I. work to be done. It was not a suicide but an accidental homicide, cut and dried (no pun intended). The zucchinis grow in a dangerous plot of land on the back side of our lot, directly in the Frisbee flight pattern. The Frisbees have a limited area of safe flight. It is a fifteen-foot area of grass. With a good toss, Sabbath (Sabbie as we call her) can jump easily 4 feet into the air, snapping the disc from its flight. More commonly, the cheap discs we buy from the local pet store fly left or right, landing over the fence in the neighbor’s yard, just inside our yard in last year’s Christmas tree, in the fire pit, on the garage roof or yes . . . in the zucchini.
At first glance, dismay overcame me. Then anger. Then sadness. I picked up the once thriving plant and laid it sorrowfully on the picnic table. I reasoned the large plant had cost me almost nothing in the price of seed, or time. Still, a feeling of hopelessness reduced me to a sigh.
Then I pictured the energetic Sabbie, in the pursuit of her prey, tail waving wildly in the air. I pictured the one I knew had thrown the Frisbee, cringing in horror as the dog tore through the plant with passion.
And I smiled. There is so much more brought to my life by the wet nose of a dog, or the warm hug of a loved one than by rearing a zucchini from a seed. Surely there will be more zucchini if they can save their lives from the plight of the Frisbee. There will never be another Sabbath who follows me at every step and looks upside-down back at me from where I sit tapping on my keyboard.