We have officially reached that time of year when all of the gray clouds and their endless misting rain have started to subside. Oddly enough, I love all the rainy days. For whatever reason, I am more productive and more relaxed. Maybe it’s because I don’t have many expectations for those days? I already know any outdoor activities are off the to-do list for the day.
I actually read somewhere (most likely Pinterest) that it rains so gardeners can get housework done. That makes perfect sense to me.
Today was one of the first truly beautiful, sunny days here where you can be fairly confident the -7 degree weather is behind you. It started off cloudy, then before I knew it, there were mostly blue skies with white puffs of clouds floating by. You could almost feel March pushing February out with every gust of warm air.
Even though I will never run out of housework to take care of, I decided to dig out all of my gardening things and make a day of cleaning things out and getting started on this year’s seeds for the greenhouse. Once again, MS and several other life things, leave me not sure if I’ll do my usual gardening, but I have a couple of friends who have purchased a good bit of land recently, so the plants certainly won’t go to waste either way.
Gardening is such a reflection of life that the lessons are never lost on me. I’ve tried over and over to research what to plant when and where, how much to water it, when to water it, the type of soil it needs to thrive, etc. I made detailed notebooks, with photos. I watched YouTube videos. Everything. What I have found is that when I overcomplicate things…they don’t grow or work out. The years that I try going by lists of when and what, my garden fails. But the years that I just run wild, following behind my instincts, I have so much growing that I am able to give a lot of it away.
I grew up in South GA, surrounded by farmers and all the land you could ever need to grow anything and I spent most of my days in the dirt. I remember having my first real garden in Kindergarten. I planted radishes. I was so excited about the entire process, except the spicy flavor of those radishes.
We lived on a farm, seven miles from the nearest town at the time. My parents had gotten divorced so we had lived with my mom’s sister for a bit before moving about an hour away to live in a different small town around my second half of Kindergarten. It’s weird to say goodbye to your Kindergarten friends because at 6 years old, you don’t understand what that kind of goodbye really means. You just go about the rest of your day until you realize you now have a new school, a new room, new neighbors, and a new routine. This part of the story is a whole other blog, or novel, but the good news is that I’m blessed to still have several of those friends from Kindergarten even now.
For my new routine, I would get off the school bus and pick strawberries on the path to my house to have as my after school snack. Then I’d race off to dig potatoes, and in true tomboy fashion, stop to play with earthworms as I dug along the long, straight line ahead of me. Once we had a calf and I remember how neat (and messy) it was to feed it with that huge, red-nippled bottle. It was the sweetest little thing!
I vividly remember pulling up carrots and washing one off with the water hose. I ate it and then we all got in the car to go somewhere. Well, as my luck would have it, I got carsick. That put an end to eating raw carrots for me.
We were also surrounded by dirt roads. There were many evenings spent walking down the dirt road we lived on after dinner. There were always wild blackberries and no cars. Every once in a while, you may see a dog, but that was about it.
I have lost count of how many houses I have lived in, but each one of them taught me about life, and most of them had a garden of some sort. If I didn’t have my own, I would just help out the neighbors with theirs.
As I sit here, soaking up the last bit of a beautiful, pink and blue sunset with the breeze now making me wish I were at the beach, I realize that the more time goes by, the more similarities I am able to see between gardening and life. It may sound strange to most of you, but I’d always known my mom’s side of the family had Cherokee Indian. It’s probably too far back to trace with any certainty. It was my mom’s dad’s great grandmother five times over or something, but for some reason, it always stuck with me. I didn’t think about it very much growing up, but once I moved to Atlanta, I started getting stopped all the time by people asking me if anyone had ever told me I look like Cher. I had not up to that point, but then it happened everywhere I went, even at the airport in Houston, TX.
Anyway, it does make me very curious to know if having even that small amount is what has always made me feel so connected to nature and animals. Who knows, maybe it’s just a human thing?
I guess the point is that when I over research things instead of just going with my own instincts, they almost always fail. I have countless stories of failures to back up that point, unfortunately.
So, today, I scrapped the thick notebook of gardening “rules,” and went back to just feeling my way through. It may not work out, but it did put the life back into the process for me. Did I put too many seeds in one starter container? Maybe. Will we get another cold snap that lasts a little too long and everything dies? Again, maybe. But perhaps the magic was the time spent outside?
All of the moving throughout my life taught me a lot of life lessons. It taught me that goodbyes won’t actually kill you, even though sometimes it may feel like it. It truly isn’t the house that makes a home, nor the things you buy to put in it. It’s the energy, love, laughter, and music. It’s the way it makes you feel when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. It’s the little everyday things that make a home and no amount of money can buy that feeling for you. It also taught me that even though you may spend so much of your time planting seeds and tending to your garden, you may have to leave it behind someday. I’m just grateful to know that no matter where I am, I’ll always have a least a patch of dirt to grow new roots.