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gardening

Just Write: Sprigs of Hope.

by Amber on March 19, 2012

There is dirt under my nails as I type this. Not because I haven’t scrubbed them. I have. But because I spent my weekend down on my hands and knees in the dirt. And I was happy to be there.

The first daffodils

As the clouds floated across a fresh blue sky, I started the yearly task of setting my gardens to rights.

I cut down the brittle fronds of tall grass that still reached for the sun, earning myself more than a few stinging cuts in the process.

I dug up the first crop of green invaders, dragging at least 500 different kinds of weeds out of my gardens with a satisfying yank of their roots.

I opened bag after bag after bag of warm red mulch, filling my lungs with its deep piney scent and spreading it around all my sprouting darlings.

And through it all, Tori puttered in the background. Sometimes digging beside me, sometimes chattering away to herself as she played with her dolls, and the bugs that live under the rocks, and the fairies that live in her imagination.

Tori helps me in the garden

She made me recipes with mulch, scattering great big handfuls all across the outdoor chairs that became her impromptu kitchen.

She stomped through my gardens, earning herself snipes of righteous indignation as I tried to protect my little seedlings.

She collected lovely flowers (dandelions) and brought me a bouquet.

And she periodically threw herself in my lap, whining to go inside before giving up and wandering off.

She did, in other words, all the things I remember doing as a little girl while my mother gardened.

I remember how boring it could seem, and how much I sometimes wished she would stop and pay attention to me. But more than anything, I remember feeling contented. Peaceful.

I think, on some level, I knew my mom was happy there. That while she puttered among green growing things, all was right in her world. And knowing that made me happy too.

Now it’s come full circle.

I’m the one finding joy in the deep, dark dirt. And my daughter’s beside me, soaking it all up.

I can’t even tell you how right that feels.

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I’ve always loved being in a garden. In fact, some of my earliest and happiest memories are of puttering next to my mom as she planted things and pulled weeds.

So it’s no surprise that having a garden has been a priority for me from the moment I moved into my first apartment. At times, my “garden” has been nothing more than a few flower boxes, but there’s always been something blooming around my home.

Lillies in my garden.

Sunshine for my soul.

And now that I have my own house? The gardens have proliferated to a point where I have a hard time keeping up with it all. Indeed, the weeds sometimes get taller than the flowers they’re choking.

But I never let it stay that way. I can’t.

My house? Can be as dirty as it wants to be. But my gardens are my pride and joy. So, no matter how busy, stressed and overtired I am, I make sure to get my fix of  dirt time. If I don’t, my fingers get itchy.

That’s why I was outside at 8:30 a.m. last Sunday, pulling weeds and taking inventory. Tori crouched next to me, “helping” weed with her little Dora the Explorer shovel. Sure, she picked plants I wanted to keep and wouldn’t let me pull weeds she found pretty, but I didn’t mind.

We were playing in the dirt together, continuing a tradition that began with my mom and me. And I? Couldn’t have been happier if I tried.

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