“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is.” This little ditty from my patent leather shoe wearing, crinoline slip showing, pigtails bouncing, hopscotch/jump rope playing days always comes to mind this time of the year. And like most nature loving folks, the balmy weather beckons me outdoors. Those of you who followed my original Blog in 2012 are familiar with my “Tales from the Garden”. So in honor of Daylight Savings Time and the official First Day of Spring (just a week away), I would like to provide you with some New Tales.
Unlike most folks who dig in the dirt, I started gardening for health reasons. Frankly, I was concerned about the food supply and all those unknown dangers lurking in the vegetable aisles of our friendly grocery store. News reports of packaged lettuce laced with bacteria, pesticides coating the gala apples, tomatoes processed in lye…it was enough to make me run screaming into the night. Instead, I decided to revisit a practice I had abandoned years ago…home gardening.
Even though we were city dwellers, my family always had a little home garden plot. My mother, a Southern girl, knew the importance of healthy eating and always made sure there was something good growing in that little plot next to the back door. I remember days spent digging in the rock laden soil, planting precious seeds and counting the days until seedlings pushed through eventually yielding their bounty of heirloom tomatoes, long pole beans, crunchy leafed romaine lettuce, bulbous cucumbers, and savory squash.
Gardening, I later learned, can be more than just producing food and flowers. It can be a cure to many of life’s ails such as depression and anxiety. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic and a lot cheaper than a psychiatrist. The increasing number of men and women city dwellers who are discovering gardening supports this theory. No longer is it necessary to own “the back forty” to grow a garden. Patios, porches, rooftops, window sills, and even ‘rent a plot” gardens make it possible for everyone to engage in this life giving practice.
After a particularly stressful period in my my life for which no amount of Xanax could help, I again turned to gardening. The pleasure I derived that first Spring from digging in the dirt, watching each day as tiny buds appeared and new growth unfurled followed by daily visits from the most glorious butterflies and birds in the area was indescribable.
Suddenly, my life became filled with hope and anticipation as I looked forward to the wonder Nature had bestowed just outside my back door. I started trolling thrift shops looking for gardening how-to-books, visiting Garden shops at 6 a.m., hauling dirt became my daily workout, seed catalogs filled my mailbox, and rainy days that filled my rain barrels (old olive barrels from a warehouse) became the source of quiet joy.
Gardening became the antidote for depression and the colorful bounty of flowers and luscious pesticide free vegetables it yielded… the cure.