I married a gardener, which by default makes me one, too. And anyone who knows my husband, knows he doesn’t do anything in a small way – an interest that started as a little raised bed in his parents’ backyard has ballooned into a small acreage, which keeps our family very busy three seasons a year. The land we’ve adopted was once a horse pasture, which we’ve been working to reclaim from the encroaching brush. We’ve been lucky enough to meet some of the people who loved this little parcel long before us, and we hope future generations will care for it long after we’re gone.
It’s a labour of love, most days. Other days it’s just labour. Would it be easier to lay on the couch each weekend and read a book, rather than enduring the sore muscles, unforgiving weather and muck? Yes. Yes it would. But living with a gardener has taught me a lot of lessons that no amount of restful living could teach.
One has been to never lose hope. Right now, with the exception of some seemingly immortal kale, cabbage and carrots, our garden is a jumbled mess of tangled dead vines and chaos. To an outsider, it probably looks like a lost cause. But to us, it’s beautiful. Under the death and decay lays the potential for a new year, waiting to burst into life.
There are days when the world looks as dreary as our garden does right now. It feels like the world’s gone completely mad, to be honest. In an age when technology is supposed to bring us closer than ever, we couldn’t be further apart. Social media is anything but social, as it breaks friendships and drives wedges. Covid mandates encouraged “otherness” to a dangerous level, and today we’re a world teetering on the brink of World War III, with the invasion of Ukraine.
It feels so bleak. But there’s always hope, even if we can’t see it yet. In our garden, I reached a point when the workload was so high, it felt like it wasn’t worth it anymore. I was exhausted, and ready to throw in the hoe and the chainsaw, and let the gloomy scrub swallow back the land. In my darkest place, I arrived one morning at the garden gate, and found an unlikely sight. A giant spray of daisies – my favourite flower – had bloomed there overnight. In October. Whether it was a little gift from God, or the land itself, I’ll never know for sure. But it was enough to push me through the heavy work of fall, with cold, numb hands and a very soggy spring, when our garden looked more like a marsh. Then this summer, we watched our bleak and barren forest floor regenerate itself into a field of wildflowers, strawberries, baby bunnies and honeybees, and I’m glad I didn’t give up.
We can’t lose hope in each other, either. One day we’ll remember how to agree to disagree with respect, instead of waging war, with words or weapons. We’ll realize we have more in common with our alleged “enemies” than we think, and we’ll all get further in this life by working together.
At least, that’s my hope.