Normally, this is the time I start thinking about growing things, the time when I plan my garden. This year, that isn't happening, because I've given the garden up in order to have time to teach without giving up anything else. I'm going to miss it.

But I don't regret it.

I thought I might at first. I enjoy working with the soil, planting things and watching them grow. I like canning and freezing and preserving the bounty, and sharing it with friends and neighbors. And there was always so much to share. Besides, the joy of the local food bank staff every time I made a delivery warmed me even when the sun failed to.

I liked providing for people in this way that seems so rare now, by putting fresh food grown in walking distance on tables, both mine and others. It filled the spaces in myself that I created when I left a high-paying corporate technology job to stay home and raise my child. It felt like work, which helped me justify spending time there rather than playing at my writing. Because the writing is play, even when it's not going well.

What I come back to, however, is that it felt like work. In a way that even the teaching, even on the most trying days, just doesn't – despite assurances that I've been given a particularly trying group of kids.

So this year, I'm tending different gardens and watching different fruit grow. I'll probably have to wait longer to reap my harvest, and some of it I will need to leave for someone else to gather. I don't mind. I still get the joy of watching my gardens thrive.