A new planting year begins

It’s that time again. I’m clearing out the vegetable beds closest to our house. I’m rinsing out my  germination flats with bleach, and filling them with seedling mix. I’m fondling seed packets, and paging through piles of seed catalogs.

What will I grow? How will it go? How can I work with nature, and what is beyond my control?

So much. So much is beyond my control. It’s dizzying, it’s terrifying, what’s beyond my control.

And on some levels, it’s simplifying. Thanks to the lessons I’m learning as a student of therapeutic horticulture, I’m recognizing better the parallels between daily life and gardening.

Recently, I learned that one of my colleagues has experienced a most painful loss. I’m heartbroken for her. My heart aches, as I think of my own beloveds and those I’ve lost already; those that I’m sure to lose in my lifetime. In the end, I’ll lose this body.

Some might feel that this is a recipe for hopelessness or despair. It’s not.

I’ve learned a lot about resilience, in my training as a psychologist. And I’ve worked hard to build resilience within myself. Each year, I amend my own soil with mindful awareness and self-compassion.

So I view the situation differently. I’d like to encourage us all to think about what lies within our control. What options we have: to show up, or not show up. In this moment, and this moment, and this moment. And how we show up matters, too  – with warm, open-hearted curiosity, or cold indifference, or cruel judgment.


Always, just like in gardening, we can adjust, adjust, adjust.

Two quotes from great writers come to mind. One is by Annie Dillard, and I’ve managed to lose it somewhere. The essence? Write as if you were dying. Or maybe it was something like write as if you wrote to the dying. What would be worth their time?

The other, by Madeleine L’Engle: “When you write, write remembering the child you were, because the essence of childhood doesn’t change.”

There we have it – sandwiched as we are between the innocence of childhood and the wisdom forced upon us by the promise of death. Every moment counts. Act accordingly.

Gardening, for me, is an act of the eternal optimist. A chance to start over, dig deep, sow hearty, and reap what grows. Failures go into the compost pile, which feed the next season.

Start over.

Dig deep. Sow hearty. Reap what grows.

But remember: we have to show up to truly live.

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