When I told my counselor I was feeling overwhelmed with decision making and a long to-do list, she suggested I “get out in nature.” What slips from my awareness is how much “nature” I have in my own back yard. The heavy rains of this winter, followed by a volley of very hot afternoons, caused an outburst of blooms, from white and yellow roses to the purple trumpet vines over my arbor, from California and Mexican poppies to irises and strange unknowns I didn’t plant—like the six-foot spike of magenta-flowered Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) that shot up from an unassuming gray green shrub I’m glad I didn’t pull as a weed.
The flowers encouraged me to get out and dig compost into the vegetable beds, communicate with the garlics to encourage them to bulb up, plant snow peas I’m already harvesting in profusion. I have been eating more lettuce and fresh spinach than I thought I could. This labor has helped me absorb and accept the recent deaths of two dear friends, helped me count my blessings in the face of daily announcements of suffering and repression in my own country and abroad.
Despite the hours of attention my own yard demands, I responded last Sunday to a call to help water the garden of a friend who had to fly to Australia because of the unexpected death there of her 45-year-old daughter. Surrounding Anna’s humble cottage is an arrangement of flowers, herbs and vegetables unlike any I had seen before, planted in sod containers and mounds, celery sharing space with alyssum, tomatoes with basil (spaghetti sauce in process!) parsley and thyme sprouting all around. Even the heft and length of the watering hose surprised me. I felt inspired by this hidden space full of life and imagination. As the 9 a.m. sun filtered through the perimeter of tall trees, I sent a prayer into the atmosphere, hoping it would reach to the continent “down under” for Anna to feel our sympathetic caring and love. For my soul, this was another example of the garden cure.
Jennie’s backyard explodes into Spring: