This is the second year I have decided to invest in a home garden here in the desert. That means we start planting by late February or March when most places are still shoveling the nasty white stuff.

The only reason I toy with this fantasy has everything to do with what we did after the in-ground trampoline had bounced its last bounce. We filled in the space with real dirt. You know the kind the rest of the country takes for granted. You see here in the desert southwest we have rocks, with dust mixed in for giggles. When we agreed to have a trampoline in the first place, it was on the grounds (no pun intended), that a ground-level trampoline was safer. The kids got right to work with their little shovels and after an hour had accomplished nada.

Observing the locals, we decided a pick-ax would do the trick and only mom and dad were allowed to wield it. That lasted thirty minutes and we didn’t care if the four year-old swung it as long as there was visible progress. After a week we had made a hole the size of Malibu Barbie’s wading pool. We were losing heart, and the kids were conveniently unavailable. Week two, we saw some progress when dad got serious with the ax. The diameter extended to five feet around and a whopping six inches deep.

It was about that time I had a landscaper come by to make a bid on the yard. He took one look at my husband and said the magic words, “If you give me the job I will throw in digging the hole for free.” You would have thought Mark had won the lottery. The ax hit the dirt and it is history from there; but I regress.

So we have this lovely circle in the yard with authentic dirt, and shrewdly determine to grow our own produce. “Why not, think of all the money we will save.” A few trips to the store later, about a hundred bucks, and we are in business. Or so we think. Tomatoes need cages, grapes require a trellis and then there is the netting, fencing, and the gross amount of water needed to keep plants from turning to crust in the desert heat? Need I go on?

The first year we had no clue and netted a harvest fit for a mouse. This year, the birds beat us to the grapes although I did get to taste the last ten they left on the vine to tease me. Our tomatoes were a different story altogether. A rabbit found his way into our yard through a small design in the fence, and ate himself too fat to get out. I discovered that desert rabbits love tomatoes and ignore carrots and lettuce. Between the bunny and the birds they sampled most of the tomatoes, much like a kid samples a box of chocolates. Arr-gh!

I am pretty sure that if we divide the cost of everything into the harvest, we can happily say we dined on twenty dollar tomatoes. Even from a production and labor cost comparison, this happy experiment was a failure of seismic proportions.

What have I learned? Set traps next year and learn to cook rabbit, then we will have meat with our carrots.

Thinking about this from a spiritual perspective, I can imagine that we humans are the seeds God loving and expectantly plants here on earth. Each of us has such potential to grow and be fruitful and transform the area we are planted in. Trials and difficulties can come by and chew on us leaving us a little imperfect but stronger as we continue to grow and mature in the light of the Son. When we are ripe and have remained rooted in the vine, the master gardener will come and gently remove us and take us to the great banquet in heaven where He can show us off as the fruit of His unconditional love.

It is there I hope to see everyone; strong, perfect, beautiful and displayed in a dazzling array of unique and wonderful creations.

Barbara Lishko  is blessed to be a lifelong cradle-Catholic. She and her husband Mark, have been married for 30 years, and have five amazingly talented young adult children who are an abundance of inspiration for her weekly columns. Through her experiences as a wife, mother, and full time youth minister she shares her unique humor and insight with her readers. God continues to abundantly bless her life by allowing her the honor of serving as a tiny instrument in His Almighty hands. Barbara is a past recipient of the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Service Award given through the Diocese of Phoenix. Visit her blog at