This is my back yard garden, or what I like to call my little urban farm, after a mild winter and a l-o-n-g, not quite sprung spring. New paths have been laid down, compost has been worked into all the beds, and we grieving humans wait for warmer weather.
If you look closely, you can see the perennial foods have started their journeys above ground — rhubarb, walking onions, spinach, sylvetta, sea kale, chives, strawberries. The garlic I planted in the fall is up too. All the berry bushes are in bud or, as in the case of the haskaps, already flowering and swarming with bees. I’ve started some seedlings inside, the ones that need a longer growing season — tomatoes, melons, cucumbers — and in a week or two I’ll start direct sowing seeds more tolerant of the cold.
It is always the case that gardening is my sanity. Gardening in the midst of a pandemic takes it to another level. It gives me some balance and perspective when I might otherwise be spinning out of control wondering if I actually have the disease. Yes, OK, I sometimes worry about things over which I have no control. But gardening also keeps me from spinning out about things that overwhelm me but might in fact be solvable if I can just take a breath. Like when I KNOW we can do better as a society. How do we solve THAT problem? The pandemic has given us a huge opportunity … to slow down, to really see each other and care enough to do things differently on the other side. Gardening helps me think through problems by showing me a path. It is the only place where I feel quiet in my whole being, where I observe nature with a complete reverence and often don’t realize until later how it’s shown me a new way to think about something that’s been bothering me. But back to the physical act itself …
The photo above is a picture of the Japanese Maple at the entrance to our back yard. I’ve just given it some delicious compost and a new layer of mulch which is from the bamboo bush on the other side of the yard. This is a first — I am starting to generate my own mulch from biomass in the garden. It’s been a slow process but it’s exciting. And if this pandemic lockdown ever lifts, I’ll see if the tool library has a wood chipper I can borrow to make even more mulch from my stack of old stems and twigs and branches (oh my) stacked up in the back of the yard.
How much better it is to carry wood to the fire than to moan about your life. How much better to throw the garbage onto the compost, or to pin the clean sheets on the line with a gray-brown wooden clothes pin! The Clothes Pin by Jane Kenyon