Thursday, April 11, 2013

Growing Season

Earlier this week, I looked outside our picture window and I couldn't help it - a short, surprised, delighted gasp escaped my lips.

Some of the crocus were blooming - the ones closest to the cement step out front. The step is painted a forest green, so it absorbs the heat, and it is slightly warmer in that section of the flower garden. 

It surprises me every time. Winter lasts so very long in the Maritimes that I am startled at any sign of the S-word (you know, Spring - the word whispered in corners so as not to scare away the sunshine...) 

And amazed. 

The bulbs, first planted in the fall before the frost hits, have been asleep all winter, and now they wake from their slumber. Granted, they are the eternal optimists and usually, there is the false start to the spring season. The warm weather allows them to thrive, but it is only to followed by an ice-storm that destroys their delicate blooms. 

This time of year makes me pensive - I start thinking of new life, hope, and promise. 

Last year's blooms

This year, though, recent events (such as our daughter's surgery, as well as some other things) have started me thinking about the entirety of the growing season - from cultivation to planting to weeding to harvest. 

What strikes me as I think about this is that there is a definite structure to it all. The land needs to be worked, aerated. If it doesn't drain well, we mix mulch and other kinds of soil - maybe even sand - into the garden to prepare it to be planted (whether with bulbs, vegetable seed, rhizomes, or pre-started plants.) And then the REAL work begins.

The law of the harvest isn't ONLY that you reap what you sow. It goes a bit further than that. Once germinated, the young plant needs to be nurtured, given room to grow (weeding comes in here), and provided with food and water in just the right proportions for the harvest to be optimal. I've explored these analogies before, but today what jumped out at me was the one thing I hate almost as much as I hate weeding. 


It seems interminable before the first shoots poke their heads up out of the ground. That in itself is exciting (for the gardener) - but then comes a period of waiting that seems to stretch on forever. The tension between what is and what shall be is frustrating at times. Often it is as much as three months before harvest can happen. Yet there is much to do during that time: hard work to keep the roots clear of encumbrances, working the soil frequently so that it is loose and provides room to grow, and sometimes even pest control. The task is not something one would seek out.

Some of my most unpleasant gardening memories as a child surround being coerced into weeding in my parents' large vegetable garden amongst clouds of mosquitoes and blackflies that seemed inexorably drawn to my tender skin, and walking between the rows of foot-high potato plants with a Coke bottle in one hand - a bottle which had been half-filled with kerosene. I'd pick up and plop squirming potato bugs - adults AND larvae - into the bottle to exterminate them (shudder) and all under a hot and punishing summer sun - a sun which would have been welcome at the beach. But alas, it was not to be.

Some things about the growing season aren't very comfortable, let's just put it like that. I'd so much rather skip to the end, reap the benefits right away. However, it doesn't work that way. Time has to pass, I must work, and I must wait for nature to take its course. I must also cooperate with it on its own terms; the ground will not give forth its bounty easily. It will always tend to slip back into a state of chaos. 

It needs maintenance, husbandry, tending, care.

How like the process of spiritual healing, of recovery, of parenting, of any process where there is an end result desired and it takes time and (grit teeth) patience to get there. 

Sometimes I do what I know is the right thing, and reality's thorns pop up and try to choke the life out of what good I am trying to do. That sucks... but it happens. So ... I do the next right thing. And I pray that a whole sequence of small decisions to live honestly, openly, and willingly, to set boundaries (and enforce them) when I need to, and to let go of things (and people, and outcomes) that I can't change, will eventually produce a bountiful crop. (Or a beautiful flower. Even if the flower doesn't believe she's beautiful.) 

"Do the next right thing," I have learned as I recover from codependency. 

Even when the choice to do the next right thing is hard. (And even when I do it wrong!!) And sometimes, even when doing the right thing makes someone else believe I'm doing the wrong thing, and that person makes a self-destructive choice based on that belief. Those are the hardest things for me to accept. 

The growing season happens one day at a time. My courage fails me when I focus on the endlessness of it, and I complain that it's taking forever for this thing or that thing to happen. 

But I can do only what I can do ... TODAY. Just this one day, I can make the next right choice. I might not be able to do it graciously, or perfectly - but I can live in the moment and do what I need to do to accept what is, and to take care of myself and the people I love, today

After all, this moment is all anyone has.

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