The season of dirty fingernails – garden therapy 2013.

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

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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