These are unprecedented times we are living in with all that’s going on in the world right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought much of society to a grinding halt, and there is a lot of anxiety and fear, along with feelings of trepidation and insecurity that are flooding our emotions, and I am certainly not immune. I fear for my family and friends, and I worry about keeping them all safe and healthy, as so many people around the world wrestle with the same fears and concerns. My thoughts extend beyond my own family. I contemplate the personal sacrifices that all the selfless essential workers and volunteers are making, doing everything they can to help us get through this crisis. Alas, my mind has rarely had a moment of peace these past few weeks.
In these times, I find myself seeking the calming solitude of the garden to quiet my mind. Taking a walk outside and noticing all the changes that are occurring in nature is helping to bring me solace. While immersed in the little surprises I find, a daffodil bud here, or a shallot emerging there, I can tune out the anxious and fearful thoughts as I allow myself to examine the routine of nature. When our world seems at a standstill, I notice with relief that life is still going, nature is still moving forward. A smile comes to my face as I see the peonies poking their heads up out of the ground after a long winter’s nap. The daffodils and crocus emerge, along with the forsythia, garlic, and chives. The spring peeper frogs start to sing, and I can hear the red-winged blackbird’s chortles on the cool breeze. These are all the harbingers of spring, a time of renewal. Nature and my garden are showing me that these times call for fortitude. I admire how they withstood the harshest winter temperatures, waiting patiently in cold isolation until they could emerge to see another season. They remind me that just as they showed strength when facing adversity, so too shall we.
Right now, my garden also teaches me patience. As the weather warms, I get the itch to start planting. This year, more than ever, I long for the distraction that getting my hands into the soil brings. However, I know that I have to be patient. This early in the year weather is fickle, warm one day, and frigid the next. Frost and late-season snowfall threaten to be the assassins of anything I want to plant in the ground. For now, I will have to wait and be satisfied with watching nature unfold, and in so doing, be quietly taught that patience is required not just in the garden but also in the world we are currently living in. Having patience for those around us and patience for ourselves is so important as we all navigate this new reality.
My garden is also providing me with hope. Seeing the buds on the blueberry bushes helps me look to the future when I can harvest the fruit. The act of planting seeds will, in the following months, bring food to my table and bees and other pollinators to the many beautiful blooms I plan to grow, all events that I can look forward to in the future. As author and philosopher Matshona Dhliwayo said, “A seed neither fears light nor darkness, but uses both to grow.” We, too, will grow out of this darkness, hopefully emerging as better people. People that are grateful, willing to help others, and aware of what is truly important in life. The dormant plants are coming alive with renewed life, and it gives me hope for the future to come.
I am so grateful for the lessons my garden has to offer; the fortitude, patience, and hope that it is teaching me now is especially important during this difficult time. The garden is so often a grand teacher, guiding me and showing me how I fit into this world. To quote Audrey Hepburn, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” So, let’s get planting because I, for one, will continue to look to the garden for the hope of tomorrow.