Why do I garden?
That’s one of the questions people will ask when my passion for growing eventually — okay, instantly — finds its way into conversation.
Sometimes the query lives in the raised eyebrow of a new acquaintance. My 40-something information technology professional countenance doesn’t often jibe with the societal picture of typical gardener.
Yet, I am a gardener — a gardener to whom the question “why do I garden?” seems almost rhetorical. The question is akin to asking myself, “Why do I breathe?” Read More →
Last night’s sunset helped me understand that I need to work much harder at recognizing the past for what it is while letting its gravity sink below the horizon.
Over the last few days, I’ve felt an army of malaise slowly marching up my spine. I’ve made good progress on some things around the house, but the incessant grey outside sapped my energy despite the still warm glow of a wonderful family Christmas. Even getting outdoors for a long hike yesterday did little to pique my motivation.
I woke early this morning, before dawn. I didn’t open the curtains in the living room; another grey morning was no temptation. Around seven, I noticed a glint of warmth where the curtain fell slightly open.
It was the sun, a stranger we haven’t seen for what seems an eternity — though in reality it’s only been a week or so. The forecast calls for snow later this afternoon and tomorrow to end 2012, but even a few hours of sunlight has done wonders for my outlook. Read More →
Having four distinct seasons is a way of life here in the northern climes. I wouldn’t change it if I had the chance, as I truly enjoy the cold end that winter brings to the year. The clarity of a sunny, crisp winter day is beyond description. But, each season has a downside. For winter, that downside can arrive in the form of grey, overcast skies that can seem endless. When the main source of our light comes from an electrical outlet, our moods sour and our minds and bodies go into a sort of survival hibernation. Read More →
It’s been a long few weeks. I’ve felt them starting to drag on me, but I didn’t realize that it was so obvious from the outside. I ran into a colleague who hadn’t seen me in a while, and she greeted me with a strange look and said, “You look tired, or stressed, or something.”
I took her comments as a sign that I should do something to unwind on my way home, so I drove out west of town and stopped on the side of the road to watch the sunset. As my car door closed, I noticed something odd for this time of the day.
No wind. No cars.
For a few minutes, I checked into silence, with the exception of a rooster.
If the start of 2012 is any indication, this year could end up being one of the busiest (and most fulfilling) of my life. So much has happened in the year’s first eight weeks, can you guess which of the elements of my “Grow. Share. Observe. Learn. Pause. Focus.” mantra I’ve ignored the most? That’s right: Pause.
So tonight, as I was reviewing the ever-increasing agenda for the upcoming week, I noticed the setting sun out our dining room windows. I slung my camera over my shoulder, headed out the door and drove west into a giant orange ball of a setting sun. Ten miles of county road later, I turned south just as the sun slipped below the horizon. I’ve driven past this dilapidated farm building on the hill countless times over the past two decades, each time thinking, “That would be a great sunset photo.”
This evening, I pulled to the side of the road, paused, and turned that thought into reality.
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As my son and I left his Cub Scout meeting on Friday night, I could only describe the weather as pouring ice. Steady waves of icy pellets fell noisily on the sidewalk outside the school. We were on the southern edge of a storm system that dumped several inches of snow along the Great Lakes, but left us with a few hours of sleet. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was expecting a crunchy crust on the garden. Instead, the grass was already peeking out from a patchy coating of what looked like snow.
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This past week, I haven’t done well in fulfilling my pledge to pause each day to let nature’s splendor fill me with inspiration. I let the panic of life set in, running from one task to the next, letting other concerns take precedence over this simple exercise in humility and recharge. Thankfully, I received a friendly reminder when my friend Steve Bender (Southern Living’s Grumpy Gardener) posted my Thanksgiving essay to his Facebook page.
Tonight at sunset, I drove out to the same location that had inspired that post to catch the final bit of orange as it slipped past the horizon.
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I have a confession to make. I worry. I worry a lot. I worry that I worry too much.
This past weekend, as the temperature broke 50 degrees, I worried that the plants would be fooled by a false spring and my garden be wiped out by the true winter that was sure to come.
Then, on Wednesday morning, I read this edict on Facebook, by way of Steve Bender (aka Southern Living’s Grumpy Gardener).
“How can you stop this mild winter weather from causing shrubs, trees, and bulbs to bloom too early? Answer: You can’t. So stop worrying about it. Que sera sera.“
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It’s a bit depressing out in the garden right now. The dusting of snow that fell yesterday has melted, returning the damp, dull brown that has muted the garden since late October. We’ve had so few sunny days, it seems miraculous and almost disorienting when rays of light do stream through the windows. The lack of snow and sun has me craving the spring garden and we’ve yet to reach even the new year. Memories of this year’s garden that linger indoors are all that keep me from packing for a tropical vacation.
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