I’m spending the afternoon/evening getting ready for the Brush*Abilities class that starts tomorrow. But stumbled on this most fabulous of gardening quotes, from this article from Slate:

So why garden? Because gardening is one of the joys of life. Peaceful and meditative, it’s work that involves nurturing lovely, colorful creatures that never talk back or defile the rug. You proceed at your own pace in your own space while listening to the birds or your iPod or your kids, and, if you’re lucky and keep after the weeds, you’ll end up with a stir fry. When gardening ceases to be a labor of love, you might as well stop…

I spent 3 hours digging yesterday, to unearth a corner of the yard where we’ve previously just raked and blown all the pine needles and leaves from 2 years of yard “maintenance” - it made a pile in the corner of the back fence, behind two large pine trees, roughly 3 feet high and maybe 5 feet to a side. I’m going to have those two trees removed, to make way for a little fountain and a bench, and hopefully what will become a little quiet bowery spot outside. So the whole “peaceful and meditative” didn’t apply so much yesterday as “sweaty and breathless and backbreaking”. But they are right about one thing - being part of my own garden in the past few months - digging in my own dirt, being outside with my kids, watching with wonder as these little plants have grown, has become one of the non-computery joys of my life. In short, it’s a little bit of nature therapy that I’ve discovered I desperately needed.

Hence my instant identification with this phrase from the same article:

…one tightly wound adult [could] discover the therapeutic pleasures of hoeing…

I’m still bewildered by the sheer amount of information, and by this whole new dictionary-worth of jargon to learn (perennial? annual? at least I have these two down), but it slows me down, helps me think, gives me a new outlet for discovery and an opportunity to be part of a beautifying process that I really only have a small, humble part in.

The process of GROWING is a lovely mystery that I marvel at every day. But it also feels like I’m experiencing the way the universe works in a very tangible and visible way. It’s hard to see my own growth, for example - to see the way with nurturing and care and time and experience I have become a different person over time. But it’s easy to see my tomato plants grow, bud, and produce small green fruit that ripens into a big beautiful red tomato where no tomato existed before - incredible! And humbling. Mysterious, and yet beautifully ordered. No tomato ever grew from a watermelon vine, so I witness the irrevocable law of the universe that one only reaps what one sows. And that growth - ALL growth - takes patience, and care, and nurturing, and above all - TIME. I have learned this lesson now after one summer of gardening, more deeply than I have ever learned it in theory.

Over time, as I’ve been outside, and especially as I’ve been watering plants, breathing in the beautiful, fragrant mist, and almost feeling the joy of my plants, this phrase from the book of Isaiah comes into my mind, which is one of the blessings of fasting, but something that I understand better than ever now:

And the Lord shall aguide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in bdrought, and cmake fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a dspring of water, whose waters fail not.

If I end up a little less tightly wound, and my little corner of earth ends up better than when I started (ha! have I shown pictures of our backyard when we bought this place?), it will have been worth it. I’ve discovered for myself another thing that - like so many things in life that are really worth it - combines labor and love into a beautiful, gratifying whole. Plus backache, dirt under my fingernails, and the occasional brush with poison ivy. Pretty darned perfect.