Spring barreled into town this past weekend like a sailor on shore leave. It was a shock to the system.
Two weeks ago–the first day of my kids’ spring break, in fact–we woke up to several inches of snow on the ground. As late as last Thursday (six days ago as of this writing), I was still wearing long underwear, wool hats and gloves to soccer games, wrapped in so many layers of coats and blankets that I looked like the bride of the Michelin Tire Man.
So on Saturday morning, upon waking to blue skies and temperatures climbing into the low 70’s, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I stepped outside gingerly, as if dipping my toe into untested bath water. Could I really go outside without my coat on?
My garden seemed to whisper, “Yes, Martha, it’s safe.”
Then it added, “Where the hell have you been?”
My older son’s soccer games were three hours away in Pennsylvania; my husband had driven him there. Our younger son should have had three games over the course of the weekend, but was sidelined with a minor concussion.
I tried very hard not to feel grateful for that concussion. Very hard.
But I couldn’t help it. I had an entire soccer-free weekend, unheard of at this time of year. And the weather would be spectacular.
That concussion was another form of grace (that’s my Bad Mom confession). It was the stepping stone to the gardening grace that May Sarton wrote about.
Don’t get me wrong. I love attending their soccer games. (Here’s a post about it, if you need convincing.) I know I don’t have to go; I want to go. The garden will stay put, but my kids are only here for a heartbeat. I don’t want to miss a second of it.
But this weekend I was free to putter in the garden with no emotional conflicts at all.
I pulled on the gardening overalls I’ve owned for over a decade, now faded from top to bottom but even more so at the knees. The metal clasps clicked into place over my shoulders. The overalls are so ridiculous looking that my son asks me to change out of them before I drive carpools.
Having been a Master Gardener years ago, I had all but given up this soul-nurturing passion after I had breast cancer in 2009. The mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries took more out of me than I ever could have imagined. I simply had to ask the garden to forgive me.
Here’s an excerpt from a piece I posted last August (click here to read the whole thing):
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
This year I have approached my garden from an Emersonian viewpoint, embracing the virtues of weeds. A house remodeling project in the spring, a book idea, and unbearable stretches of heat this summer have led to an unprecedented level of garden neglect on my part. I have told friends and family that 2012 is the year of Garden as Science Project.
But it’s time to get my garden mojo back. Two hours on Saturday, six hours on Sunday, and three more hours on Monday later, I have made a tiny dent in the spring gardening To Do list.
In the process, I realized that gardening is the perfect compliment to my mindfulness practice. The focus required while uprooting weeds, cultivating the soil, and trimming away dead branches quiets the mind and stills the soul. It’s a dirty form of meditation.
At the same time, I was overcome by creative ideas bubbling up as I dug deeper. Something profound would come to mind, but I couldn’t tear myself away to write it down.
Feeling a little desperate, I pulled my iPhone out of my back pocket and started taking notes. I felt a weird thrill when the rubber coating of my gardening gloves worked on the touch screen.
As I created space in the garden, I created space in my own thought process. I had some revelations. I made some decisions.
In the coming weeks I’ll be blogging about those revelations and decisions, and the interplay of gardening and writing and life.
What about you? Do you have gardening stories to share? I’d love to hear them!
If you like today’s entry and are not yet a subscriber, sign up above for free delivery of new posts to your email inbox. (I promise to never sell the info.) Social media shares are always appreciated as well!