I never knew that bliss was covered with dirt. In all the corners I’ve searched for balance, in the teachers I’ve sought for peace or the books I’ve read hoping for calmness, I didn’t expect to find it on my patio. And yet, for someone who vacuums obsessively and runs late to do last minute dusting, I’m reveling in a love of soil.
I’ve always wanted a garden with plants to sprinkle with hope and whisper sweet dreams. I’ve always envisioned fresh herbs and green shoots tended by my hand. I linger upon lush yards during my walks with my puppy, drooling over tomato plants and gardenia bushes that seem to never fall out of season. And yet, I haven’t had a backyard, or a patio, or even a ledge to plant my seeds. And I haven’t had the best luck with indoor plants – usually my downfall is overwatering, anxiously peering in soil and determining that more is better until they drown with my protection. I’ve been limiting myself to cacti, which you actually have to have murderous intentions in order to spur their demise.
With all of that, I am a gardener at heart. I just know it. I love the pruning and the mothering. I love the morning checks for new leaves and glimpse of a miracle as seeds sprout into splashes of color. So the clincher on my new apartment was the patio with a small bed of soil and ample ledges for things of green. I wandered up aisles in the nursery, swirling with possibilities and unlimited by any knowledge of practicalities, seasons, or space requirements. Admittedly, I missed a few items: planters, topsoil, and a watering can... But I was too distracted by the basil, cilantro, rosemary, strawberry plant, and various beauties to remember the basics. It didn’t matter. Yesterday I became a gardener as I left my gloves in the kitchen and dug with bare hands to create room for roots, whispering prayers for growth and strength for all of us.
Amidst the din of daily life traffic, for a few moments, I found my balance. Something about new possibilities sprinkled with nurturance and warm breezes allowed me to breathe in the calm and settle into simple contentment. Protective of their fragile roots, I steadied my feet in my own life.
I run on overwhelmed, with a default setting of anxiety. I forget inhale, to prioritize, and to grasp that a to-do item doesn’t demand immediate attention simply by appearing on the list. I wobble with change, and squirm until the last picture is hung on the wall. I struggle to schedule fun before errands and relaxation in the face of emails unanswered. And yet, filthy under a lazy Sunday sky, joy superseded groceries and my head ceased its 90 mph roaming to match my feet in the dirt.
Maybe my plants will shrivel or my green thumb never appears. Maybe. But it won’t change the fact that I am a gardener, permanently imprinted with the sweet glee of my hands in the earth, taking deep breathes and gratefully balanced in my new home.