Three gangly turkey hens, each with a brood of at least six to 10 poults, grazed peacefully outside my living room window Monday morning.

The poults peeped and scurried toward their moms who were keeping a close watch. A couple of them decided a nice dust bath in the middle of my garden would feel good, leaving broken seedlings in their path.

My husband and I tip-toed to the windows to take in this spectacular spring and early summer ritual. We tried photographing the flock, but the sound of the “click” sent them running.

One year, I saw two or three hens, followed by a dozen or so adolescent turkeys racing between the asparagus patch and the brush pile. Where’s that camera when you need it!

This year, we’ve already found broken pale blue empty egg shells, a sure sign that the many robin pairs in the area were successful in producing another generation. The kestrels that often return to raise a family in one of our old maple trees aren’t there this year, but nearby. Occasionally we see them, and with very few crows trying to eat my sprouted corn plants, I know those tiny, aggressive hawks are around.

Deer tracks are found in the garden occasionally, but no ground-hog evidence yet. So often, those lovely deer like to take a bite out of every squash, pumpkin and gourd that they find. If only they’d eat the whole thing, I’d be willing to share. But then, although I get a little frustrated, my thought is that they were here before we were.

On Tuesday, I found the first, pea-sized green tomato among the abundance of blossoms on my way to many tomato plants, and the first blossom on a gourd plant.

The Asian lilies are blossoming, and the native, indestructible day lilies are about to. The Indian corn and sunflowers, grown together near the mailbox, with a few more pumpkins, are also all sprouted and doing well.

After last year’s devastating gardening experience, the worst for me in nearly four decades of gardening, I wasn’t taking any chances this year.

The garden of 2009 was almost non-existent. Constant rain and chilly weather, along with the blight that wiped out most of my precious tomato plants, left me with very little produce to can or freeze. Not to mention all the work that went into planting, fertilizing, hoeing and tilling, along with all the money spent on seeds, seedlings, fertilizer and mulch.

I decided I wasn’t going to take any chances this year, which led to an over-planting of almost everything. I figure something will survive. In the garden are 34 tomato plants of four varieties, all doing very well, thank you. The pea-sized tomato sprouted from a Roma plant.

Virtually every potato eye I planted, sprouted, and the plants are a foot or so tall. They are under straw rather than mounds of dirt. The new railroad tie beds are filled with carrots, onions, mesclun greens and lettuce. Pumpkin and gourd plants are happily growing in their designated mounds, and the beans, cucumbers, corn and other vegetables and herbs seem pleased with the amount of sun and rain showering down on them.

In front of the house in five-gallon buckets, are another dozen or so tomato plants, some that I started from seed, some that I bought at a local nursery. There’s also several containers of lettuce growing in window boxes, six hot or bell pepper plants, and one of this year’s experiments, a container of cress for adding to our daily salads.

Although last year’s garden was a virtual disaster, the thought never crossed my mind not to continue growing vegetables and herbs.

Gardeners are a unique breed. We operate on optimism.

So, come rain, drought, turkeys taking garden dust baths, crows and deer helping themselves, and the many species of beetles and other insects that also like to feast on fresh vegetables, we persist. For nature has a way of giving back if we respect our land and take good care of it.

And if something doesn’t grow this year, there’s always next.

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