Gardening, weed pulling, planting… these activities restore and rejuvenate a worn down soul who is sad and ragged around the edges
When things weigh me down… get to be just too much…
I know it’s been too long.
Too long since I had dirty fingernails, my fingers needing a good bleach bath.
Too long since I dug around the flowerbeds, pulling night crawlers out of the crevices around the sidewalk and throwing them into the asparagus.
I look out the window and, sure enough, those weeds wink back at me, goldenrods sassy in their stature, bold as brass beside bushes.
When I just plain don’t feel like it. That is when I know I need to do it the most.
“It” being weed out the weeds in my flowerbeds. Those offenders in my fledgling grapevines.
Straightening up my little garden boxes here and there.
Put in new seedlings.
I don’t wanna.
Which means I really need to.
I know intellectually when I really don’t feel like it…
…I really, absolutely need to.
This gardening, this activity, is my anxiety medicine.
It is my remedy.
It truly is what lifts me out of the shit. It can bring me out of the deepest, darkest sadness.
It has never, ever failed in 20 years.
I have a plethora of beautiful plants and flowers… trees which I have defended valiantly against weather and, ugh, deer.
Deer like to eat my trees.
Side tangent for a moment here, bear with me (or skip down a few paragraphs)—
The city folks who come up here to “visit” and stay in their second homes (idiotically) feed the deer corn.
They scatter it out along the edge of their yards, and set up signs, warning others to stay away.
I have heard more than one indignant story from a “downstater” telling of the nerve of a bear eating the corn set out for the deer.
Pennsylvania black bear apparently cannot read those signs. Who knew?
Deer are ruminant animals.
Corn hurts deer.
Deer will eat it. Much like you will eat those decadent buckeyes, telling yourself some peanut butter is present, so there is a positive nutritional value in it, somewhere.
The deer are now more plentiful and tame, as well as fatty. They blanket the sides of the roads, bloated and dead, too.
They come closer and closer to homes and think nothing of eating all our trees and bushes.
Oh, look, Frank! It’s just like Bambi!
The Joys of Digging in Dirt
We are on our third set of Bing Cherry trees… thanks to the deer.
I will win this battle. I am far more stubborn, damnit.
Fruit trees are their favorite. I have mine in a staked off area.
They cannot jump into it, as they did with round one.
They cannot reach into it, stretching their necks impossibly, snatching the tops off, as they did with round two.
We shall see if these ones make it.
The bugs are a factor as well. “June bugs” in particular. They are relentless.
I used to fight the chickens for native strawberries. The chickens were excellent at finding them well before I.
Sadly the fox and the downstate visitors’ dogs were keen on finding my chickens. A story for a different day.
These strawberries are intensely sweet and tiny. The size of a pea.
I make native strawberry muffins when I have a precious cupful, using an old family muffin recipe.
These are normal muffins, not the grotesque, over the top jobs that are the size of a saucer and contain more calories than a roast beef dinner.
Just regular, smallish muffins.
Very soft and tender. I use the same recipe for wild huckleberries I pick at the end of July.
So awesome with butter. Real butter.
Alas, I am unable to eat these like that, not with my current medical situation.
‘Tis for the best, as these muffins are truly a “eat the whole batch” kind of thing. Not good, it could become dangerous!
Growing one’s own fruits is just… it is a different thing altogether. It truly is.
The taste is amazing. It makes such a difference, being from your own ground. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s really fun for kids and for grown-ups, too!
We have blackberries and raspberries, along with the strawberries. We also collect rose hips from our old fashioned rose bushes. Rose hips are bursting with natural Vitamin C.
I have to thank Julia E Hubbel for inspiring me to even write this piece. I admire her so, she is a wonderful lady with so many qualities that deeply impress me. Discovering her on Medium has been a true joy for me.
Gardening is a pastime that is truly available to do anywhere.
One can even be an apartment dweller and garden if determined.
One can make a small garden box and place it in a window.
Buy a plastic box, put gravel in the bottom for a filtration layer, then a bag of soil, and you are off!
Inside gardening is not hard. One doesn’t need acres of land. Just determination and imagination. Or only the willingness to try.
Even just one pot with the one thing you would like to grow. Read what climate it needs, provide that climate and tend to it.
You will be surprised at the yield!
The best part of all is the happiness you feel when it provides that yield, knowing your careful care is why it is there.
Try it and see.
When it seems I am bogged down with the stressors of life, all the crap… I force myself out to the gardens.
I force myself out to the flowerbeds with my snips.
I know I will be greeted with a mess that needs tending. Much like the stress in my life.
I breathe a sigh of relief, almost immediately.
The fresh air I live in… I bend my head in shame.
When was the last time I noticed this? When was the last time I was thankful for my home?
The quiet I am surrounded by?
The birds, singing?
The sky, so blue, unpolluted…
… the grass so green and only due to the location, not because I hired a person to make it that way?
I touch my peonies and marvel at their ruffled beauty.
Their skirted magnificence.
I feel the stress and worry slide off my shoulders.
With every weed I pull out by the roots, I dismiss a petty concern along with it and toss it away in the pile to be burned up.
My thinking is focused, clear.
I am not interrupted. There are no sounds but my even breathing, the rustle of my fingers wrapping around the bottoms of stems.
I am slow and deliberate. I feel no rush to complete this task, no impending deadlines.
I am in a world of no stress.
Where creativity is allowed and no loud voices shout it down.
Where I am able to think without interruption.
My best ideas are born here.
My best insights are given to me here.
I think over things I have shrunk away from thinking about, forcing my mind to square up and face those problems, unknotting them slowly… working out solutions.
I encourage everyone to cultivate a place like this, mentally, spiritually, and physically (if possible).
I know this is why I shrink from it when the shit gets so deep in my life…
…because I do feel like we are, at times, our worst enemies.
We do get in our own ways. We do self-sabotage to an extent.
In recognizing our weaknesses like this, we open the door to our freedom from them.
We relinquish their hold on us.
We dissolve their terrible destructive power over our progress.
In naming them, we dissipate them.
Vanquishing them to a corner where they disappear.
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup olive oil (I also have used sunflower oil or avocado oil)
1 1/2cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon removed.
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup fruit
— — — —
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix vanilla extract with fruit with the 1 tablespoon of sugar in bowl- set aside.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil and egg, mix for two minutes on medium speed. Slowly stir in milk.
Fold in fruit mixture.
Place 1/2 capfuls in cupcake papers in cupcake baking pan.
Makes +/- 12 fruit muffins.
Can be doubled (However, I find it just tastes odd when doubled. Making batches one at a time holds the integrity of the recipe.)
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