So it was early March, and suddenly I burst into the Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I couldn’t get it out of my head. Why? I look forward to summer the way a kid looks forward to Christmas. Every day is a new present to open (or maybe it’s more like an extended Hanukkah?). Starting with the first snowdrop bloom and continuing until the sound of the last cricket, this is my time, who I am, my happiness.
If you are reading this, you probably don’t need any convincing. We live for the smell of fresh warm dirt and antique roses, basil on our fingers, and tomatoes in our harvest baskets (or aprons). The pure joy of lying on the fresh grass with the kids and pets, or eating a dinner made straight from the garden, seems enough to get me through another winter.
But with each summer that comes around, I also realize how precious each one is. I’m getting to that age where I’m starting to feel…like a gardening “expert” or something. (Can you tell I’m trying to find a more positive way to say “old”?) I can still remember when I was young and just starting out, and how often I was scared by a plant: What if I ate the wrong part of it and poisoned myself? What if it grew out of control and then I was stuck (let’s just say that happened more than once). But with the years, what I lose in pure physical strength I gain in fearlessness and knowledge. I like to think I am just as strong as I was when I was 22 and moved a 250-pound maple tree from one location to another, hole-digging and all. And thanks to yoga, running, and cycling, I know I am strong. But let’s be honest here. Things change.
But it’s not all bad. One thing that changes about getting older as a gardener is that I am much more fearless. Try something new? Why not? What do I have to lose? Whether it’s a new variety of vegetable or a new type of tool. At the same time, I also know what works and I’m sticking with it. I don’t fear any peer pressure around having to have the newest new thing.
I’m trying to decide if I’ve become less fussy or more. But what’s really happened is that I have the means to act on my fussiness. Last summer was the first summer in 35 years that I had consistent help in the vegetable garden. What a difference it made in my stress level! I know everyone can’t be so lucky, but the person I found to help me had never gardened before in his life. So it’s fun to teach someone else the joy of gardening.
I am definitely more determined to have fun and stop fighting nature. I have surrendered to her. Because we’ve all seen how relentless she is in her sweet, subtle, and completely stubborn way. I know when I’m gone I’m going to fade into dirt just like anything else that dies, so it takes lots of the pressure off trying to manage it all.
My goal is to keep enjoying each summer with the childlike pleasure of Christmas, no matter how old I get. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
I had to laugh when I read your comment about eating the wrong part of a plant. Many summers ago, I gave some avocados from my tree to a new neighbor in Ventura CA. She was new to our country and I wanted her to feel welcomed. There was a language barrier, but she accepted my gift and thanked me. She had no idea what I had given her, only that it was something to eat. She peeled the avocado, threw away the flesh and boiled the pit. Needless to say, she wasn’t a ‘fan’.
You’re right, Maria, I did read this post because I do agree with you! I have been so joyful this gardening season slowly transforming the weed beds in my new backyard. BUT, guess what happened last Monday morning during my rainyday walk? I fell and broke my right shoulder! Woe is me, the weeds are growing and spreading as I peck away at this comment with my non dominant index finger.
As a fledgling believer of accepting the Universe’s messages to us, I am sure that there is much for me to learn over the next few weeks as my shoulder heals and my ‘garden’ grows without my help. Perhaps, I will take more time for reading and writing. Thanks for getting me started on this beautiful summer morning!
Oh no Susan! I wish you luck and a speedy recovery. Perhaps the message is to just rest and enjoy watching nature take control? Put your feet up. Relax!
Enjoyed the article:) I gotta say though, you’re not old. Not even close I say. Old is 95, and given I live in an area in FL that is filled with retirees, even that age is subject to speculation. I’ve seen women in their eighties do countless laps in the pool after their beachside walk or ladies in their sixties do what women in their 40’s do on a good day. They swear it’s kept them younger, calling it their passion. Gardening is your passion, what running was to “Pre”, or what a driving is to Mario Andretti. Next to yoga, it’s your stress release. Mother Nature could throw a wrench in the best thought out gardening or farming plans, so I’m glad you found a way to laugh:) I hope you share funny stories about your next gardening/farming venture, or if one of your kids joins you in the garden. I know there would be some laughs if that happened:)
Oh Maria, This year I have found two guys to help me around the yard and garden. I too have surrendered to nature. There is no use fighting with it, it’s totally useless, so I hired my newspaper guy and he brought along another person to help him to do odd jobs for a few extra dollars. It is so nice to get work done, sit back, relax and enjoy what you have planted over the years and recently!
I have never really had the time to enjoy the fruits of my labor, because nature dictated that I shouldn’t, just work, work, work! Upkeep, and more upkeep continuously! By the end of last year, I was totally exhausted, and still had plenty to try and accomplish. This year I swore to myself, that I needed help and was going to have it! I don’t let them do everything, but I teach them what to do. It’s going to take a lot more lessons, but I think they’ll be fine, and I’ll continue to have a bit more time for myself and the natural beauty around me. Whew, fresh squeezed lemonade anyone? Iced coffee, ice-cream floats, sangria, aqua fresca and munchies on the deck at mid-day, here I come!! Don’t forget a good read!