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Gardening: Chore, Challenge or Calm?

June 1, 2019



Perspective really changes things.  I used to garden extensively when my children were young.  What a chore.  I turned over a  40 by 40 ft space with pitchfork and shovel.  My gardens were so prolific I could can tomatoes into pizza or lasagna sauce and have enough for the entire winter and spring.  I had green peppers one year that grew as bountifully as tomatoes often do.  It was an arduous chore that gave practical rewards at a time when my children were toddlers and money was scarce.   


Once my children grew up and I moved alone to North Carolina, I tried to grow vegetables only to be disappointed every year.  What a challenge. After the initial blast of planting in the spring, I quickly wearied of gardening. It all seemed so pointless when either drought dried plants to burnt toast or too much rain flooded them. Or they just looked stunted even though I added compost to the soil to a fault. 


This year, ironically, Hurricane Florence propelled me to another level of gardening. The Hurricane, fallen trees and machines rutting through the lawn to move the debris meant the backyard was full of holes, missing grass and roots sticking up everywhere. I decided the best thing to do was make a garden out of most of it rather than replacing the lawn.  I will confess I had help from Stanley, a professional gardener I hired, who turned over the soil with his trusty shovel and tireless effort.  Once it was ready with a little more shoveling and uprooting, plant I did.


I decided to grow flowers within the garden this year.  In December, it was unseasonably warm, so I put bulbs in which gifted me with spring flowers—paper whites, daffodils, tulips. So pretty and the last spring blossom was a double, but really a quadruple, tulip flower.  The late spring brought a huge dahlia and gladioli. 



In March and April the broccoli, cabbage and radishes started producing.   I relished the radishes. I was startled by the sweet tenderness of the broccoli and pleased with the tender cabbage. In May, the peppers look promising with many flowers and small green peppers already on the stems.  Plentiful green tomatoes are on the vines.  Ah, I did discover two plants in the back stripped of leaves but found the culprit about ready to devour the next plant, a tomato horn worm.  I did evict him and he will not return.  Even though the lettuces bolted early with the scorching 100 degree heat, I was not daunted. 



No longer a chore, watering and weeding now gives me time to relax. No longer just a chore, no longer just a challenge, now I find calm in the process.  One day while having lunch with a friend, Cameron, in my almost restored great room, the newly restored roof leaked in the rain.  After that nasty interruption, as she admired the garden through the picture window, my friend remarked how I had made lemons into lemonade. 



Yes, my garden this year is a testimony to a new perspective of acceptance.  The three-foot diameter trunk of the oak and its huge branches that tore through my roof, the ruts and holes left in the lawn, the upheaval of the driveway concrete, the mold multiplying in a heartbeat in September and October of last year.  Who knew that months later I could sit in my unfinished great room—unpainted drywall not yet taped--yet out the picture window with a new unobstructed view of the sky and clouds with a garden below, I would discover a new peace? 




Life is not perfect but the budding restoration of my home after Hurricane Florence and my calm remains as I plant, hoe, weed, water, pick and eat the garden vegetables.  I admire the flowers as they bud and bloom.  My perspective of gardening has changed from chore and challenge to calm.  And my garden has responded wonderfully.

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