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Our vegetables are out of control. I planted a “winter garden” last fall for the first time ever. I never imagined it was possible having lived in a cold climate most of my life. Turns out…you plant, grow and even harvest some in the fall, protect the plants from frost during the three or so months of cold (which isn’t too hard when there’s no real accumulation of snow and ice) and then uncover and water (if it doesn’t rain) in the spring.

And it’s simply crazy. For a northerner who never thought about paying attention to dirt until May, I now have cilantro which needs bailed and collard greens with leaves the size of small palm trees. They’re covering up my beets and garlic. I need to do some serious pruning and go solicit free health food door to door to gain back control. And because I don’t know when to leave well enough alone, I’m expanding. I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a larger bed in the community garden nearby and the chance to grow more varieties of food. My gardening mentor encouraged this next step and will be a source of knowledge throughout the year.

This, I submit, is the risk of gaining social support. For while it has clearly been the secret to any success I’ve had with running, writing, and now growing food, it may also be a slippery slope. Once people know you’re interested in what they like, there’s no limit to what might happen. Consider that when I was gardening on my own I was working mostly out of patio pots. Life was easier then. I planted seeds, sometimes watered them and watched tomato vines grown without fruit! No getting behind on harvesting ever! Now I’m practically chopping through salad fixings just to get in my front door.

And without running partners, I sometimes took leisurely walks. No sweat (ha!). But after people knew I was interested in picking up the pace, I found myself slogging out miles week after week to train for my first 1/2 marathon last fall. And I surely wouldn’t have spent last Sunday on a shooting range standing around in the cold waiting for my turn to be Annie Oakley, without a friend’s solicitation. I could have been home doing laundry but no. Instead I was wandering around in the woods shooting paper targets and flying clay saucers and learning new things about my patience and aim. So, if you want predictability, lay low, keep quiet. If, however, you need a little push to get out the door, just ask someone to join you. But be warned, my friends, it can lead to gigantic collard greens and other crazy ventures.

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