Last winter I decided to start a garden. I didn’t have high hopes for it, as I know my life can get busy as a mom of teenagers, and I thought for sure I will forget to water it and the unforgiving Arizona sun will scorch everything fast. I was delighted to prove myself wrong, and in fact to have a giving garden for many months (even still I have eggplants growing). The experience taught me some practical gardening skills (I have much more to learn) as well as some inner journey insights.
BE PATIENT, PERSISTENT AND PRACTICAL
The day you sow the seeds, is not the day you harvest – I know this is not a profound statement, but gardening has helped me strengthen my patience. I often find myself impatient with life, with myself, with motherhood and find myself drowning in thoughts of wishing something NOW. Gardening taught me that if you keep at something eventually it will pay off. Also, if there is anything you can do to make your process less stressful, do it. For example I installed a soaker hose on a timer, so when life got busy, my garden didn’t go thirsty because I forgot to water it.
BELONGING – CONNECTING TO NATURE AND EARTH
As an immigrant I often carry a little bit of an outsider feeling. Not really feeling right at home. Not knowing if I belong. And in a culture-society where people work around the clock I am not always able to find the time to connect even with people that I feel connected to. This often can make me feel disconnected and lonely. Becoming an amateur gardener has helped me with those feelings. When I am out tending to my garden I notice that my senses are getting fully engaged, which in turn gets me back to myself, and then I feel less disconnected and less lonely. Gardening has taught me to focus on my senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) and everything will be ok. See the plants, the birds, the bees, the ants, the crickets. Hear the birds, the bees buzzing, the sound of my hands digging. Smell the tomatoes, mint, basil. Feel the dirt, pull the weeds. Feel the roundness of the tomatoes, the slight roughness of the cucumbers. The little needles on the zucchini when I pick them. And then taste the sweetness of them all when I eat them. In addition to making friends with plants and critters, I made friends with the next door neighbor who has chickens. We have started trading produce for eggs. And once I even got to hold one of her chickens when it decided to give it a shot at flying and flew over the fence in my yard.
THE CYCLE – NOTHING IS PERMANENT
It seems that it took forever to get the first ripe tomatoes. They were green forever. I was patient (and sometimes not so patient). Then they started turning red faster than I can pick them and eat them. I was giving them away to friends at work or trading them with my neighbor. By mid summer the desert heat was too much for the tomatoes and the zucchini and they dried up. The cucumbers (Armenian) were enormous. And the eggplant was trying….Just as I was getting ready to pull everything out and start some winter veggies, the eggplant had other plans. It has expanded and the purple fruits were everywhere like beautiful glass baubles. I pulled everything else that was dead. For now I am letting the eggplant shower me with gifts for a little while longer, and today I added cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli around it.
So I have to remember to be patient, thing will ripen. Enjoy when it’s ripe, but it won’t be forever. Gently let it go, and plant something new. Ahhh if it were only always that easy with life, but I keep trying.