Life's a Garden.
Written by Katie F.
I’ve been socially distancing for sixty-one days now. I’ve gone through all sorts of emotions more than usual: panic, anger, mourning, frustration, fear. Yet, I’ve remained hopeful that things will go back to normal eventually and I will return to seeing my coworkers every day and lingering at school drop-offs and pick-ups to chat with the other parents, while our children share snacks and hugs. I’ve tried some new hobbies to keep myself busy, but what I’m looking forward to most this year is gardening.
As the weather has been getting warmer, I’ve spent more time in my backyard than I have in such a long time. I like to wake up early, get a cup of coffee, and sit outside for a few minutes, waking up to that crisp air. I’ve begun planning my garden, in hopes of having an extra bountiful harvest this year, and once it warms up in a couple of days I will get plants in the ground and cross my fingers for no more frost.
I could sit here and write about the benefits of gardening. About how Vitamin D from the sun boosts calcium levels and improves your immune system. Or, maybe about how 30-45 mins in the garden each day can help burn calories or lower your blood pressure, but instead, I want to tell you about what gardening does for my soul.
Spring cleanup is always a daunting task. I look around at all the weeds, vines, dead things from last year, and the leaves that have found little homes in the corners of the fence. It can be overwhelming and I feel defeated before I start. I might even put off getting out the rake for a week or two, and instead do anything else I can around the house so I have a reason to avoid it. But let me tell you. Once you start picking up those leaves, tilling that dirt, and seeing results it feels amazing. Suddenly, I become so intent on finishing up that time rushes by and the sun is going down. I go inside and start making my list of what I need to do tomorrow. I feel MOTIVATED!
Then we come to the fun part, buying all my new plants and seeds, deciding what is going to go where, filling up my windows with little seeds and waiting for them to sprout and getting them in the ground. Getting your fingers in the dirt and soaking in the sun is such a great way to get some quiet time. I like to leave my phone in the house, listen to my surroundings, and be present for a bit. It’s absolutely incredible to just take a moment to really appreciate your surroundings, all the busy little bugs burrowing themselves in the dirt, the birds chirping away, searching for worms, and the sound of all the people around me in this busy little neighborhood.
If you’ve ever gardened, you know that with gardening comes disappointment. I forget to water a plant or two, a squirrel eats my herbs, maybe the dog gets into the garden and destroys half my tomatoes. Things always go wrong at some point, no matter how hard you try. The key is staying consistent and not giving up. If you don’t water your plants and pull the weeds you won’t get your fruit. The fruit is worth it. Absolutely nothing compares to the smell and taste of a fresh ripe tomato from your backyard.
Life and gardening are really similar. It’s hard work. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and dig. Some days you find yourself filled with anxiety and clutter and it’s difficult to get started with setting goals, clearing the land, pulling the weeds that are holding you back. Once you find inspiration and begin seeing results, working towards goals gets easier and more enjoyable. Your spirit needs the basics: joy, purpose, love, self-care. If you don’t take time to tend to yourself, you may begin feeling neglected, unbalanced, lacking nourishment, depressed. You may have to re-evaluate what you’ve got growing inside and make a new plan, plant some new seeds.
So if you’re feeling the effects of this pandemic, maybe try gardening. If it’s not your thing, try something new or focus on something you already are passionate about. Take as many moments as you can to go outside, be present, look at the world around you, close your eyes and just soak it all in. And don’t forget to breathe.