Grief is a sacred journey

Goodbye to the Generous Garden

Every fall, I decide it’s silly to grow vegetables. It takes too much time. It isn’t cost effective. By February, I thumb through catalogs and order organic seeds. I can’t help myself. When the sun warms the soil, I pull on gardening gloves and hoe trenches, dig holes, plant seeds, and smooth the soil. Gardening connects me to the cycles of life and calms me as nothing else does.

The season begins in April.

mulch for garden paths and planging beds

Mulch for garden paths and planting beds

Planting peas

Planting peas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow pea flowers and wild strawberries in May.

Snow pea flowers

Snow pea flowers

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By June, the first tender lettuce and promises of more to come.

Shirley Poppits

Shirley Poppies

Early lettuce

Early lettuce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In July, I give food away and plant new beds for fall.

Willow watches me weed

Willow stays close by

Zucchini flowers

Zucchini flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In August, the heat loving plants show their colors.

Tomatoes and peppers

Tomatoes and peppers

Tomatoes headed for the freezer

Tomatoes headed for the freezer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September’s ripe fruits in red.

Fall raspberries

Fall raspberries

Peppers

Peppers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In October, the colors of autumn.

Rainbow chard

Rainbow chard

Winter Squash

Winter Squash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another bountiful season ends with a rest for the garden and the gardener. It won’t be long until the seed catalogs show up in my mailbox again.

Tilling for a fresh start in the spring

Tilling for a fresh start next spring

Woodland offering

With thanks for the bountiful harvest

Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it. ~Rumi

***
Are you a gardener, a hiker, or an animal lover? What connects you to Nature and Her Cycles?  For other posts about the healing powers of Nature, see Bees, Butterflies, and Blessings and Planting Joy in a Season of Sorrow.
Thanks to Matt Hoff for help with big and small jobs like rototilling and hammering in those tomato stakes.

 

24 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing the wonderful garden and planting info here Elaine. It’s one thing to say you’re not going to plant after a prosperous growing season. Then when you know spring is once more approaching you forget about what you said last fall. Almost like women giving birth to their first child and saying they won’t do it again. Undoubtedly, they’re on the next child, focusing on bearing the fruit of their labor, forgetting about the pain already from the first one. 🙂

    • I remember that, Debby. In the labor of childbirth for the second time, I thought, “What have I done? This hurts. Why did I forget?” It was an easy labor, but still intense because giving birth to anything in any realm is intense.

      This year the garden was easier because I wasn’t quite as busy as I was last summer and I asked my helper Matt Hoff to bail me out a few times. He offered. I took him up on it. The two of us could get those weeds under control with good cheer.

    • Seeing the bounty of your garden in order of months made me very happy. Gorgeous photos. The article induced a sense of well being, that things are right with the world. An elusive feeling in the midst of being barraged by the news with so much global suffering and pain.
      And as for it being cost effective? The cost of not being close to nature is very high. Our actions wire our brains. Our perceptions are being shaped by what we see and do.
      Oh the medicine of flowers and peppers, squash and red raspberries.

      My strawberries are still producing as is the kale and carrots. Red hot peppers keep pumping out new flowers even at this late date. The tangerine tree is about to explode with ripe sweet fruit and the oranges are coming on slowly. Southern California is kind to its gardeners.
      My grandfather had a ranch nearby. Among other things he grew avocado’s, persimmons, and had a grape arbor lush and heavy with fruit. He was a still photographer in Hollywood on the sets of the movies. I am always surprised he didn’t turn his camera to his love of nature.

      Thanks again for your rich missive.

      • Yes, a Virgo attempt to find solid ground in an alarming world. Something about those neat rectangular planting beds. Most of my arguments against it, especially “I have better things to do,” are silly. Good medicine. Southern California gardening brought all those people there. No one in their right mind wants to live in this climate. Vic has many early photos of flowers and butterflies. Many gorges and waterfalls from around here in black and white. Who is going to go through all those slides and film strips? There’s gold in there.

    • Ha! You remind me of those birthing moments. “I will never forget this pain” only to find the thought fading, melting into the loving eyes and heart of my sweet daughter. And yes, I had another child.

      I have had the great pleasure of being the recipient of many of Elaine’s fine veggies. I can say without reservation they are some of the tastiest meals I have ever eaten. She is my gardening guru. I aspire to have my rows and beds look like hers!

  2. A beautiful and rich post Elaine, here at the end of the harvest season where gardens now turn themselves towards the season’s wintry ways. I love all your photos of this year’s colourful crops, most especially your autumn garland. Although I do not garden often myself I live with a keen gardener who’s been busy wrapping plants, moving pots to the greenhouse these past two weeks. Our garden looks like we’ve put it to sleep with all colour and leaf lost to last weekend’s passing storms … yet behind the scenes, as we both know, there’s lots going on inside those deepening roots.

    For me, walking is my way of deeply connecting to nature. It’s what I love best, that and ascending, for I have always loved to climb. As a young child it started with trees, getting up into the branches where I would sit for hours, and I do mean hours just looking at the beautiful world around me. I remember being deeply fascinated by the trees, their leaves, and fruits and loved to follow the seasons of each flower, plant and tree. In hindsight I realise back then I was in perfect step with nature.

    On meeting with Jung six years ago aged 45 years I found myself re-awakening to nature’s season’s as my walking boots took me all over the beautiful English countryside. Up and downs its hills, valleys and mountains I’ve been a-wandering ever since. I absolutely love getting out of my head and into my body. Only as a child did I ever experience such joy. Yesterday I read your post for this day last year and was deeply touched by the poetical alchemy, wisdom and teaching of trees. Blessings, Deborah.

    • I love imagining your wanderings as you ponder beautiful tree poems and the wisdom of Jung. And you up in a tree. Meeting the writings of Jung in the late 1960s connected me to myself, my world, and my dreams. These idea helps me honor the feminine, pay attention to the trickster/shadow, and find meaning in the chaos of life.

      I’m an Earth sign (Virgo), so no climber here. I like to lean into the big trees and know that I am held and connected to the earth. One very old white pine in my forest stands above the canopy of other trees. I can see it out my windows. When I meditate, no matter where I am, I first imagine this tree in my body. The tall thick trunk, the reaching limbs, and especially the deep sustaining roots. That’s my relationship to this place where I live. Deep sustaining roots. And I’m a walker, too, as you may know. Vic and I cleared a path to that white pine (and many other trees) in the forest. Vic was a woodsman more than a gardener, but he helped with the big garden jobs. I’m still repotting plants to flower inside for the winter and others to plant outside in the spring.

      Thank you for your nurturing, generous, and encouraging comments.

  3. This is lovely Elaine thank you. As are the photos and Rumi’s quote. How lovely to give away food …Getting my hands into the soil is so gratifying. I don’t plant veg here at the townhouse though in our old home we did. Here at the townhouse are lovely veg gardens – I often take a bit. In my small garden here at home, I love to deadhead flowers, and weed out what needs weeding .. it reminds me of the weeding in my psyche that needs to happen and getting rid of dead wood. And always, I thank the flowers and the bees for their beauty …
    Hiking in Nature is always a pleasure. Soon we’ll be down at the sea for a week to tidy up our holiday home in prep for people who are renting it out over the festive season. I can’t wait to listen to the ocean ..
    A very happy Thanksgiving Elaine to you and family.

    • Susan, we tend our gardens in opposing seasons–weeding, thinning, dead-heading (out you go self-judgmental thought), and admiring the beauty. I love imagining summer there as we get hints of winter here. But it remains unusually warm and I haven’t had more than a dusting of snow. That’s good for holiday travelers.

      I am not close to ocean, but I do have streams on my land and beautiful Seneca Lake is less than five minutes drive. She can be stormy or peaceful. She is always beautiful and absorbs every feeling I bring to her.

      Thanksgiving will be simple. Dinner with friends. My sons will come in late December to celebrate Solstice and their grandma’s 100th birthday.

  4. What a lovely cornucopia of abundance, Elaine. We have always lived in the city. Still we tried tomatoes and beans at our first house. Here where we’ve lived for 37 years the shade of 18 oak trees doesn’t make it worth the effort.

    I have sweet memories of my Grandma Longenecker leafing expectantly through Burpee seed catalogs. Her anticipation of spring planting was palpable even though there was snow on the ground.

    Many can relate to your statement: Gardening connects me to the cycles of life and calms me as nothing else does. My current writing coach is an avid gardener. Based on his comments to me in ALL CAPS, I believe his blood pressure spikes when he reads my submissions. 😉 Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Elaine!

    • Marian, I smile at the attempt to grow beans and tomatoes under those oak trees. Not a chance, but you had to try. I would plant lettuce and green in the shade. I’m dedicated to putting seeds in the ground.

      My grandmas were both gardeners, especially the Missouri one who lived on a farm. I loved eating from her garden. When we moved away from Missouri, my dad helped me plant my first vegetables in the backyard in Michigan. I used to buy from Burpee. Now I buy from Fedco, an organic seed grower in Maine. They’re good for cooler climates and have the best varieties of lettuce.

      All CAPS!!! That could mean he loves it or hates it. That could mean “you’ve got it” or “haven’t you figured out by now that this doesn’t work?” Send him to the garden. It lower blood pressure. Have a wonderful weekend with family. I imagine you will feast.

      • Our first garden had full sun. Where we live now we have the oak trees and no chance of beans or tomatoes, but I could try lettuce and other greens.

        I’m blogging about my writing class next week, so the ALL CAPS will be explained. 🙂

  5. I am not a gardener, but I fully appreciate the harvest! Also, I adore my cantankerous Chihuahua. What a lovely post with stunning images.

    • Thank you, Rica. I do lots of photography. It makes me happy, as does my dog Willow. My son and daughter-in-law rescued a chihuahua. He is surprisingly mellow and good with the big dogs he lives with and my wiggly Lab.

      I’ll take part in a vegetarian feast for Thanksgiving. I imagine you will, too. I’m making non-meat balls with beans, quinoa, and lots of onions, garlic, and more. I’ll serve themwith tomato sauce from my garden and garlicky greens. My friends are doing the rest–appetizers, lots of vegetable sides, and a vegan fruit dessert. We will be full and happy.

  6. I lust after your red tractor. 😉

    • There are many stories about that Kubota and learning to drive it after Vic’s death. I figured I couldn’t stay here if I couldn’t mow the trails and haul firewood. I rarely do either now because of Matt’s good work, but I know how. I never mastered plowing with it, but Matt did. It’s so good to have a helper who is enthusiastic, smart, and knows his way around engines and power equipment. He reads the manual when he doesn’t know what to do. The tractor was Vic’s baby, part of his world of chainsaws, firewood, snow removal, and other rural survival skills It’s closer to orange than red. She scared me at first. She and I are friends now although I tested her a few times.

  7. You had me at Shirley Poppies, Elaine. 🙂

    I had to go look them up, and now I know I must plant some of these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Poppy

    Having grown up on a farm, I did plant a few gardens. Usually we grew green beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, spinach, zucchini. Just simple things and just enough to put fresh veggies on the table throughout spring and summer.

    The blog is like Thanksgiving itself — a Harvest Festival. Hope your holiday was merry and the joy continues.

    • They are wonderful, Shirley. Bees and other pollinators love the early blossoms, the colors are intense, they seed themselves generously, and they flower here and there throughout the summer. I haven’t planted them for years because they seed themselves. Each spring I pull out many so there’s room to plant vegetables. I also let calendula and dill wander around my garden in this way.

      Those simple vegetables are scrumptious when they’re grown at home. And, yes, I was thinking of Thanksgiving as the harvest festival. When I gardened big and filled the cellar with canning jars of every sort of fruit, the freezer with garden vegetables, and bushel baskets of onions, garlic, winter squash, potatoes, and carrots. Thanksgiving was about gratitude that the season of harvesting and “putting foods by” was finally done.

  8. I guess it must be like hiking is to me. Winter comes and I think I’ll sit out the cold weather and wait until spring to venture outside. But it’s too tempting, when the temp rises just a bit, to wander on the trails. When the woods have put on a new winter coat, and streambeds that were uncrossable can suddenly be traversed, and the paths you think you know by heart have changed so much with each and new season – it’s hard to imagine not being out there, not watching and celebrating the changes.

    • Hi Robin, I’ll be out there this winter, although sometimes only my eyes will be out because the rest of me will be wrapped in layers. My winter boots are oiled and the snow pants are ready. Snowshoes are in the garage. I have two sets of women’s, so if you ever want to try snowshoes. Suki’s leash wouldn’t work well, but you’re also invited for a walk.

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