Since March 15th, I have been more or less home with my family. I think I’ve slept away for 2 nights. Most of the time I have been grateful for the relative comfort and security I have felt here with my people. I don’t take these things for granted for a second. I know I am really lucky. But I’ve also been stretched and frustrated, at times feeling really cooped up. I’m hardly nomadic, but I do like to move around more than most. Seeking what, I am not quite sure. Answers, I suppose. And connection through otherness.
As this season has unfolded, I have spent less time than usual in the nearby mountains. When I’ve gone there, it has been so busy and I feel torn. I am grateful so many others are in connection with our greater environment, but I am also sad because these ecosystems are fragile, the government has withdrawn resources to adequately manage and protect them and I’ve seen more errant behaviour and garbage tossed around than I ever have. So, when we do go, we take along bags and pick the garbage up. But, if I am being honest, I’d rather stay home.
This season, I finally made my front yard garden dreams come true. This was my plan before we’d signed the purchase agreement for this house, but for the three seasons before this one, I was swept up in working in community spaces and didn’t have time for both. This year, I’ve dug swales and planted seeds and collected rainwater and steeped worm tea. I’ve transplanted and staked and top dressed and mulched. I’ve observed and rested, pruned, chipped, composted, I’ve succeeded and failed. I’ve spent many quiet hours out there in my front yard, listened to what neighbours passing by have to say when they see me. I’ve shared and traded with others, seeds, fruit vegetables, pleasantries, ideas, secrets. I’ve introduced my kids to new scents, flavours and relationships, and hauled them out of there in my arms when it is too late and they need to sleep. The fruit of this relationship between my land and I is a renewal of my love of cooking, which I lost a few years ago because I was just so bleary and depleted. As I have worked through the things I felt draining and harmful in my life, I have been held by this garden, coming to understand home and belonging in such a profoundly new way. In the midst of so much change and the unknown, I’ve discovered I am just like everything else living, I am resilient. There is no end to how much I can adapt. All of this, through co-creating this new (baby) garden. And I’ve loved every living second of it.
It’s not just me. Gardens save lives. Not only do they provide us (and many other species) with nutrient rich food, endless beauty and teaching, they fix us in this time and space we are alive in. They root and hold us in the most practical and magical way. There is much delight and learning and healing in a garden. At its best, it is the living embodiment and expression of the relationship we have with this planet, our home.
Humans practice for lifetimes to attain enlightenment, nirvana, beyond. So many beautiful, ancient systems of devotion and wisdom. I am of mother earth. I give myself to her again and again, listening deeper and deeper with each passing season. What I’ve received isn’t something I can articulate. But it has made me whole.
Many years ago a teacher said to me “every garden is different, every garden in the same.” I’ve always appreciated her deep knowing of the rhythm of the year, her understanding of the land, the individual and the collective. But, in recent seasons, and very much this one, I see more the differences. Alongside the ancient wisdom our planet is constantly and most benevolently sharing, there are new calls, responses, places to put our awareness and action. It is enlivening all of us, humans and non-humans, to first take care of ourselves and only then others, extending to everything living around us.
This year the garden reminds me we are interconnected. And I am gratefully listening. A familiar tune, the gateway to a place we have always been welcome.
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