Garden Lessons: You Are Your Intentions

Spring Bounty: Herbs, greens, and a fresh artichoke.

Day 1 of the rest of my garden. Um, I mean life. Today I gathered enough greens, herbs, and flowers to save me, oh, I’d say about $25 at the farmers market. I didn’t start this garden to save money. I never really thought growing my own food, at scale, was a possibility. So, I started the garden because it felt good to get my fingers in the dirt. For the last 8 years or so, I’ve been digging, planting, removing, and terracing. I started out with ornamental plants. The kind guaranteed to live no matter my level of competence. Low-water plants that would not hurt the environment and might even attract butterflies and bees. Then, I experimented with herbs. In the first year I grew just enough to wonder if I could grow more. So then, my current intention of creating a “feel good” place expanded. Suddenly, I wanted to learn to grow food. Notice, unlike in my professional career, I didn’t go for the big expansive goal: “Let’s grow food for the neighborhood!” Instead, I went for something humble, unassuming, even therapeutic in a way that letting seniors or mentally handicapped people garden is therapeutic. I didn’t follow any guidebooks. I just played around, using my own compost, building up my own soil with kitchen and garden waste. In the first year I didn’t accomplish much but a $75 tomato and some purple potatoes that spontaneously erupted from the compost pile. The butterflies came, the hummingbirds rejoiced, and even the Red Tails showed more interest in the garden.

While my work and personal life took on new vigor and demands, my ability to focus on the garden waned. The garden didn’t take it personally. She knew I was needed elsewhere. Then my dad got sick taking me away physically for nearly 7 weeks since November. While my family and I tended to each other, my garden tended to herself. What works well in dry, weedy, unfertilized soil survived. Fortunately spinach, artichokes, rocket, and parsly fit into that category.

A few weeks back my family turned a corner from a state of low-level grief and fear, to acceptance, appreciation, and joyful togetherness. Although from the start of this process, there has been a family bond stronger than I could ever have imagined, there was always an unwelcome, but understandable level of fear, dispair, and anxiety about what comes next. Dad, ever-present peacemaker and soldier of hope, kept us all focused on his intention that he will be fine. Whatever fine means, he will define it. This transition from fear to peace made me crave my garden. A self-nurturing motivation came over me. I’m sure my craving was helped by the first hints of spring and buckets of rain. I took an entire weekend day away from everything else and attacked my garden jungle with a vengeance. What I uncovered was pretty miraculous. While I was away, ignoring my garden, and perhaps ignoring my soul in the process, my garden had surpassed my intention and was hinting that it might be time to up the ante, maybe just a wee bit bigger.  “You can grow groceries,” she seemed to say. “Heck ya!” I responded. “Let’s do it.”

ImageThat was three weeks ago, I KID YOU NOT! One nail-destroying radical evolutionary garden session followed by some blissful evening putterings and this is what I’ve got. Mother nature responding to my call and one-upping me. She is one crazy lady and that is why I love her. So what did I learn, set those intentions, no matter how small, and keep plugging away. Oh, and let Mother Nature do the rest.

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