I grew up in Fort Worth, Texas surrounded by cement and wrapped in humidity.
As a little girl, I remember wondering if the earth was actually made of cement that we just cut into little sections and fill with dirt and grass. That’s how it works, right? I’ve always had a love for dirt and worms. Mom often put me in the garden to weed as it would take me forever to wash dishes! Flowers became friends, and dirt our playground.
When I was twelve, I convinced Mom to start a garden with me–a real one. We had flowers in a few beds at the front of our house, but not much in the back yard, and I longed to grow things like vegetables! The previous owners of our house had a fairly big area for a flower-bed already boxed and ready to go so all we had to do was weed through the over grown mess that it had become. We spent hours in that garden pulling out rocks, cans, and even toys. Our backs ached for days and our hands were blistered for weeks. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of aches and pains from working hard in the garden. We planted just a few things that year: lambs ear, tomatoes, queen anne’s lace, rose bushes, day lilies, green beans, and cucumbers.
I’ve been married now for twelve years, but I have yet to build a garden at any of our houses. We have never lived in a house that felt like home, and I couldn’t bear the idea of putting in the effort to build a garden just to say goodbye a few years later. But when I saw Katie’s post, my heart came alive again. I had just come off of an intense year, and I felt so far removed from that little girl who once played in the garden. My soul ached to return to the earth and become friends with it again. So, I applied never ever thinking I would be picked. In fact, I was so convinced that she wouldn’t want a tired mom that I didn’t even tell my husband about it. But somehow two tired moms is exactly what she needed and I’m forever grateful.
I didn’t grow up around farms or farm life. The closest I came to any sort of livestock was the pathetic, little worn out animals you pet at petting zoos, and even then I STILL wouldn’t go near them. I was stepping way outside of my city girl shoes when I started milking the goat–and I’m still getting the hang of it. I’m pretty sure her goat can see my city girl roots peeking through and isn’t convinced that I’ll ever get it right. I start milking again next week, and I’ll be bringing my best farm-girl face to the challenge. One way or another, we shall become friends. Even if it means buying a new pair of shoes.
Returning to the garden has been life giving. There’s nothing quite like plunging my hands into the dark, cold soil. Gardening isn’t work for me. It is like a good conversation with a dear friend–deeply satisfying and invigorating. We were given this beautiful earth to have dominion over. Our earth yields and communes and gives so much to us. It’s such a beautiful relationship that I think we often neglect. We would not exist if it weren’t so generous a friend.
These past 8 months have taught me the value of making room for myself. It’s like the seeds we plant in the garden: if you plant them too close together their growth is stunted–they won’t reach their full potential. Sometimes, as painful as it is, we have to remove some of the plants in between that we thought we could nurture and grow. Likewise, if we want to grow ourselves, we have to make room for that growth. I so often crowd my time with things that I can’t possibly nurture the way they need, and in doing so I stunt my own growth. This is especially true for us moms. We have these dear little ones demanding our time and love and we want to hold them close and give them all we have often forsaking our own growth and deem it noble and necessary. And they can sense that. They can see when we are spent and aren’t at our full potential. They know when we are thriving, and they encourage our growth. I’ve found myself dreaming again–looking beyond the things that I need to get to today and gazing at what may come. I have no idea what these little dreams will blossom into, but I so look forward to finding out with you. I can’t wait to see your garden boxes and flowerbeds, your recipes and artistry, your triumphs and discoveries.
(The Elderberry Lady)