I’ve started a garden! Many years of apartment dwelling in the District prevented me from planting a vegetable and herb garden, but now that I’m settling back in the ‘burbs with a quarter acre of property to play in, I’m thrilled to have a new project on my hands. Thus far, I have one large raised garden bed and two smaller ones. My partner built them for me and we spent a full weekend placing the frames, filling them with his well-cultivated dirt and compost, mulching, moving rocks and things about the yard, and finally planting some seedlings.
At the moment, we have 6 tomato plants - a combination of San Marzanos, sun golds, yellow pear tomatoes, and black cherry tomatoes; 2 Black Beauty eggplants, a few Genovese basil plants and a few purple Thai basil plants in the largest bed. The small herb bed has rosemary, dill, sage, oregano, and thyme for now. The last bed has a number of flowers that are native to the area, which we expect to bloom in late July. We’ve also put a few lettuces in large pots, and I keep thinking about getting some lavender to plant near the front door.
As I look out through the kitchen window some mornings, I feel such happiness and contentment seeing the sun shining on my little garden. It’s peaceful and grounding to tromp around the yard, trimming back and pulling weeds, building makeshift trellises from dried branches, turning the ground to check for moisture, and watering early in the mornings. I find assurance and a feeling of connectedness when my hands are in the dirt. And of course, seeing the fruits of our labor is gratifying, let alone the pleasure of eating food you’ve grown yourself.
I always thought I was more of an indoor person, but I find myself being called to nature lately. I want to take long walks in the evening to think surrounded by flower gardens and architecture of the city; I want to take hikes among the piney trees; I want to sit in the backyard for hours gazing at the moon; I want to sleep in a tent under the stars. This is all new for me, but I think I get to know myself more and more this way. The imagery of Mary Oliver’s poetry is rattling in my head so often these days:
That tall distance where
the clouds begin,
the forge that pounds out the lightning
and the black porch where the stars
are dressed in light
and arrangement is made for the moon’s path—
it’s these I think of now, after
a lifetime of goldfinches,
the passionate hands of the sun,
the coolness under the trees
talking leaf to leaf,
the foxes and the otters sliding on the snow,
the dolphins for whom no doubt
the seas were created,
the spray of swallows gathering in autumn—
after all of that
the tall distance is what I think of now.
Since I’ve last shared my life here, I’ve certainly been in a transitional season. I’ve seen substantial changes in my home, career, and relationships. I’ve learned to listen to my intuition and make choices that are right for me, even when they’re scary. I’ve been willing to sit with my uncertainty and fear. I’ve renewed my interest in living simply and sustainably. I’ve pursued self care. I uprooted my life in an effort to know myself better, and I think I found my home because of it.
I’ll continue to process and learn and grow, and through it all, I feel compelled to return to my garden - where I can reap the rewards of my patience and gentle care and feel confident that I’ve planted my tomatoes - and myself - in the right place.