It happens every time I go out the door. Even if I’m clad in my comfy old plush green robe and slide-y slippers, even if I’m only going out to dump the garbage, I just can’t resist taking a quick peek at the garden. If peek was all I did, there wouldn’t be a problem.

But a strange phenomenon occurs any time I let my eyes wander to the growing things outside my back door. I’m compelled to check for one more tiny leaf on each tomato plant. I can’t escape the pull of those soft little swellings on ranunculus stems that might, just might, mean that this is the stem that will produce another flower. And how could I not search with a determined eye to ascertain whether snails and slugs have invaded the domain?

Sometimes ten minutes is enough. After all, I know I’ll be back out that door soon. Right.

Yesterday morning I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, put a pot of rice on the stove to steam for lunch, and poured a third cup of (decaf) coffee. I’ll just take the garbage out and then I can relax. When I wandered outside, garbage bowl in hand, I made it all the way to the compost pile, dumped the peelings, and offered a word or two of encouragement to the worms whose breakfast I’d just provided. I rinsed the bowl and headed back to the house. Only a few steps and I could go on with my daily chores.

It was the sun that did me in.

What the weatherman calls “the marine layer” sometimes brings a misty haze in off the ocean in the early morning. If it’s heavy, we call it fog. If it’s soft and wispy, as it was yesterday, the sun shines through it, not quite at full strength, and the effect is lovely.

I really couldn’t help it. I made the normal inspection walk around the back yard. Tomatoes: coming along nicely, and how in the world will I palm off all those plants before I find myself with a million tomatoes to get rid of? Alstroemeria: little clumps I’ve separated and transplanted from big clumps are taking hold and pushing up flower stems by the dozens. The dwarf navel orange in the gray planter is dropping some of its leaves–I don’t know why–but they’re being replaced by lots and lots of shiny new growth, including those little pearl-like orbs that will open in the next week or so as gloriously fragrant flowers.

I saw the first true leaves of cucumber and squash, reminders that I haven’t yet sifted out this portion of the garden. Those tenacious little seeds that dropped last season sit there and mind their own business all winter and then pop up as soon as daylight reaches the proper number of hours per day. Will I let these soil-wanderers take over this space again this year? I haven’t decided yet, but within a day or two it will be too late to take them out. I find it terribly hard to murder a viable plant, especially one that will feed us nicely all summer.

Choices, choices! No matter what ends up in the garden (barring weeds and critters, of course) I find peace there. Food is just a bonus.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.