“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

Alfred Austin

I long for days when the porcelain sink briefly turns brown as I wash my hands.  Spending so much time in the world of ideas and people, sometimes I crave the earth. Admittedly, I think too much. Soil is a good antidote.

This year it is tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro, fennel, onion, and chives growing in our 6′ x 8′ plot. I don’t garden for the fruit or the herbs, as superior as they may be to the market varieties. I go to the garden because it restores me. It’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself, as Alice Sebold has written.

Before the first frost last year, we brought in a tomato plant that was still fruiting in hopes that it would survive even a month longer. The freshness of the smell was a delight for a few hours. Then the next morning, I awoke to wilted leaves and limp stems. There was talk of buying a grow light for the winter, but perhaps there is a season for growth and a season of waiting.

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”

May Sarton

I have been feeling uneasy with the pace of life recently. As much as I want to have an impact on my family, community, and business, I am questioning how much time and energy are spent running from one virtuous commitment to another.

I walk by the garden at least once a day, checking for pests, pulling a weed, or pinching a runt or two. It is a care-ful act. I become attuned to creating space for growth.

Observing, weeding, pruning, and feeding – this is the work of life.

“If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.”

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