COLUMN: Notes from Groundhog Hill

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In the Garden of Envy

by Steve LaRue

Garden of Envy.

On my way to Groundhog Hill each morning, I pass beautiful fields of green corn, recently set tobacco and purple cornflowers growing wild alongside the road. By the time I reach my experimental garden, I feel happy and eager to see what’s changed in a day’s time. All that’s missing is a bluebird on my shoulder. Not a bad way to start one’s day.

My upbeat mood changes when I reach my destination, though. The sunshine of my mind is eclipsed by dark clouds and even darker thoughts because that’s when I see it: The Other Garden at Groundhog Hill.

I must pass this other garden to reach my “go crazy” garden, and each day, I bear witness to its cruel beauty, its precise rows, its utter lack of Johnson grass. This garden belongs to a friend of my sister Paula, whom I shall call “Harold.”

For reasons unbeknownst to me, Harold is given the best spot each year. I am Paula’s brother, possibly her favorite after John/Alex/Will/Philip/Ben, but do I receive the most coveted spot for my garden? No. My garden gets to be closest to the creek so the deer, rabbits and groundhogs have easier access.

Harold started planting sometime in March so now, his rows and rows of expertly maintained green onion, potato, tomato, green beans, cabbage and squash look great.

Harold’s garden mocks my garden. I suspect he employs a team of highly skilled wood elves to weed, till and plant it because I rarely, if ever, see Harold there.

For the few seconds it takes to pass this garden, I actually hear a cool and calculating voice in my head that sounds not unlike a combo of Lord Voldemort and the Emperor from Star Wars, and it sounds chilling as it notes with menace, “What. A. Beautiful. Garden.  A pity if something bad were to happen to it. A plague, perhaps.”

By now, I’ve reached my garden. The mental clouds (and voices) disperse and I am returned to myself and former bluebird-filled mood.

This week, Groundhog Hill is muddy with gratitude from the recent rainfall. Watermelon, zucchini, sunflower, zinnia: All hold the promise that says, “just give us a month.”

More later from Groundhog Hill. Pray for Harold and his garden.

Email Steve LaRue at groundhoghillky@aol.com.