How does your garden grow?

4:53 PM

 Today has been the first day in quite some time where the clouds have hid the sun and a chilly breeze has blown, chasing me inside to my computer.

   The weather has just been far too lovely to be cooped up inside much at all, much less typing away at a keyboard in a dark room when I could be feeling the wind in my hair and dirt in my hands.

 I prefer being outside to being in.  It is just that simple.

   So of course when I HAVE to be inside, because of the mountain of laundry or the cleaning and cooking that simply must get done, I do it.  But then as soon as I can, I find myself back outside once more, resulting in the constant neglect of all online things.

  In other news, I have started therapy.  And it is called gardening.  And not just gardening as in chopping at weeds poking up between rows of broccoli and lettuce (although I did find myself actually grinning while doing that very thing) but rather the all-encompassing kind of "gardening" that includes mowing, trimming, edging, weeding, digging, planting, mulching, and pruning.  Now I know this is old hat to most of you.  But for me, this is a completely new interest.  A new hobby.  A new therapy.  And I feel like a part of me that I never even knew was hiding away in a dark, dusty corner has come forth into the light.

   If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would feel giddy while plucking away dead leaves and branches and shaving off layers of a boxwood hedge, I would have laughed.  "Maybe when my kids are grown" or "Maybe when I'm a retired grandma" or "Maybe when I have absolutely nothing else to do" are answers that would have come to mind.

   But lately I have found it to be SO therapeutic, and even healing to get outside in the dirt.  I go outside and grab a shovel and suddenly my mind is cleared for the moment and my hands are full of raw, gritty purpose and it just feels good.

It feels GOOD to do something and see an immediate result.

   And perhaps it's because the rest of my life is filled with edging and trimming and watering and pruning of an altogether different kind, and it's difficult to see some, if any, results.  Raising small children is hard work in the truest sense of the term, but you don't always get to stroll through your yard at the end of the day and see the results.  'Ahh, look at those fruits of the Spirit beginning to bud and form in my children!  I just knew that weeding would make a difference."  It just doesn't work that way.

   You don't get to see the colors of the blooms of your marriage deepen and unfold as you remember to daily tend to them.

   You can't see the faltering limb of a branch of friendship grow straighter and stronger after staking it and tying it up and handling it ever-so-carefully.

  In real life, the results just aren't so visible.  Sometimes it feels like you're just running in circles.  You just continue to show up, day after day, hoping you're doing all you can do to be the wife, daughter, mother, sister, friend that you hope to be.  The wife and mother they deserve.

And all the while, just feeling like a big, lousy FAILURE most of the time.

  But gardening?  Oh, in gardening, there are results.  It is pass or fail.  There's not much gray area when it comes to a withered up plant or dead, dropping petals.  It's so obvious to see green shoots of new growth and see where the life is or where it is not.  Where it is thriving, where it is failing to thrive, and where it is just plain dying.  It is all so simple.

  You sweat, you get a little dirty, you break a blister or two, but there are results.  Period.  Improvements.  You walk away from it all with sore shoulders and a few more freckles on your nose and you know you've made something better.  You have contributed to something that will last, and will continue to thrive, if you continue to tend to it.

And it feels SO GOOD.

   And perhaps my favorite part of all, has been the redemptive aspect of gardening.  When we first moved here, the flowerbeds were so scrabbly and rough and thorny and awful, we could hardly decipher what was worth saving and what wasn't.  It was tempting to just rip everything out and start over from scratch.  (Or at least that is certainly my husband's tendency.) But then we would have lost the beautiful boxwood hedges, that little Japanese maple, and those scrubby, thorny, maroon bushes.  O.k. so some of it is still a work in progress.

   When it came to gardening, I fully expected to enjoy the big, healthy beautiful plants, but never even saw this part coming....the glory in the rescue of the pitiful.  The joy in the transformation.  The thrill of giving attention and love to something that seems past the point of no return, and watching it slowly but surely come back to life.  And that is actually the most fun of all.  It's easy to walk through a nursery and admire the new, full, vivacious, beautiful plants with their whole lives ahead of them.

   But it is something entirely different and awe-filled and precious to approach an old plant that has seen fierce seasons and brutal weather and sore neglect, and try to peel away the years of damage, destruction and death to the small living remnant beneath, and restore it to it's full capacity.

   And so while they may not be the greatest to look at, I have come to love the struggling ones the most.  Not a lot of glorious blooms and branches to boast, but just a little scruffy growth peeking through the damaged exterior to prove that they're still alive.  They're surviving.  And don't count them out just yet because they might even be something beautiful again one day.

   I have so many, many things I need to be blogging about to try and catch up on the last few weeks, and of course gardening was not even one of them.  But when I sat down today to put words to screen, that was what came out, so, here we are.

It's almost the weekend people.

Go outside and get your hands dirty.


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  1. Those thorny bushes are barberry! I just love them! Even though they are painful when you accidentally back into them. :( I feel like gardening is more fun when you own the garden as opposed to renting it? At least, I loved working outside in our own house, but really don't care about weeds here at the rental. It's strange. Anyways, it's very nice to hear from you again!

  2. You have lots of beautiful flowers! And the illustrations were so well written!

  3. Melissa--completely agreed about the owning vs. renting theory. Totally was that way for me. And it kinda makes's just way more of a motivation when the investment you're putting into it is actually going to stick around for you to benefit from.

    Anon--thanks for reading!!

  4. So many people I know love to garden and think of it as therapy too!

    I'm glad you've found this outlet. It's one everyone around you can benefit from too!


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