Back to the Garden

photo by Elizabeth Breston

When I’m angry, I clean.  When I’m weary, I water.  I have been standing in my garden with a hose a lot this week, watching for the neon spring green of a leaf or the flash of a bloom to emerge.  A reminder that life goes on.

My friend Terri believes that a good gardening effort, regardless of the outcome, reflects a certain level of mental stability.

She says a garden requires enormous patience and more sacrifice than expected at the onset.  It starts out all seedlings, sunshine and anticipation and then come the bugs, blight and the Texas heat.  A garden teaches the lesson of giving without guarantees.

Unconditional love of the plant kind.  A good place to practice.

I’m not sure what my gardens say about my mental health but I know I go into the garden to find equilibrium through working with my hands.  In a world that makes it too easy to retreat into my head, a garden invites me into my body.  I can feel my energy enliven my senses and limbs, bringing my awareness back to the earth and into the moment.

A recent episode of Nature, “What Plants Talk About,” proposes that plants demonstrate a level of consciousness similar to behaviors attributed to the animal kingdom including altruism and family recognition.

I hear the same from Nate, the arborist working with us to save our 250-year-old Post Oak.  He loves trees and sees them as sentient beings.  Perhaps plants are not so different from us – just quieter.  To commune with their rhythm and recognize our similarities we have to slow down.  We have to participate.

This is how I come to find myself in the garden with my hose in hand.  It is not to retreat from life but to renew my belief in living.  To remind myself of the seasons and cycles.  To remember how to nurture and tend to the things that bring meaning and hope.

“..when man was put into the Garden of Eden, he was put there with the idea that he should work the land; and this proves that man was not born to be idle.”  Voltaire, Candide

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