I have concluded that my mental health is greatly improved by a day out in the garden. Yesterday was my first real concentrated effort in garden therapy and in the few short hours I invested I was reminded of the immense gratification and stress relief I get out of planting and nurturing plants and flowers. It is a simple manual labor completed with absolute love and adoration for nature’s frailty and strength – it is both consuming and liberating – it is magical.
Of course, should you see me out there in the yard I doubt that “magical” is the word that would come to mind. I am not a neat gardener. I rarely use all my handy dandy gardening supplies – such as kneeling mats, gardening gloves, and tools. I sit squarely in the dirt and will dig in it with my hands like a toddler in a sandbox. I rub my dirty hands on my clothes and in my hair without hesitation. I get so much dirt under my nails that it looks like I have a french manicure with brown tips. Sexy right?
But wait, it gets better. My nose runs mercilessly when I am gardening. I always have a pocketful of tissues to allow me to maintain some dignity when folks come around to chat with me. Absent tissues all I have is the hand arm swipe which I don’t believe is socially acceptable for humans older than age 7. My eyes also itch and water while gardening. As such, I am often rubbing my eyes with filthy hands. While this may supply short term relief, it leaves my face looking like I attempted to put on camouflage makeup to better fit in with my surroundings. And then there is my hair – the wind and dirt work together to make my hair look like it went through a blender.
And yet, even with all of the above – you would be hard-pressed to find a happier gardener. Alas, happiness does not equate with any adequacy in my skills. I am not good at gardening – I am merely persistent. I try things and I learn, and I try other things and I learn some more. In the process I use all the information I can glean from publications and the internet to do right by all the beauties in my series of little garden plots.
I can tell you with no fear of contradiction, that you will never see my garden plots featured in a Better Homes and Garden magazine or on HGTV – that is not what my garden is about. What you will see in my yard is an optimistic gardener with dirt under her nails and a smile on her face. And I do believe that is the real point of a garden from the gardener’s perspective – the joy of it. It is more than appearances – it is working with the expansive options the earth provides us to create a beauty that is a perfect marriage between the soul of the gardener and the parameters of their environment.
And so it begins, my garden therapy for 2013. I can already feel the stresses of a long winter melting away. May the season of dirty fingernails be a long one for all area gardeners filled with the joy only a garden can bring.
Day one thousand four hundred and ten of the new forty – obla di obla da