Please yourself

Back in the spring, my good friend invited me to a herb gardening workshop at the Tatamagouche Centre.  Frankly, herb gardening was just about the farthest thing from my mind at that moment.  I had just started a new business and, with two young kids, I tend to be rather protective of weekends. There were other reasons, I'm sure.  However, whenever this friend of mine and I have a chance to do something together, I never turn it down.  So, regardless of my ambivalence about herb gardening at that moment, which I had done precious little of in the past 7 or more years, I jumped at the opportunity to spend some time with my friend.   More than 15 years ago I had worked for a summer at an organic farm, and when I returned to rural NS, I had started a garden.  Since then, I had let the garden grow over due to all the usual excuses:  work stress, commuting and child rearing.  I diverted all of my creative juices away from the gardens in my life towards nurturing the little beings in my midst.

For me, gardening was just one big old stress.  It started to equate with failure and loss.  "Hey, look at all the tomatoes I did not make into salsa that instead are rotting on the deck"..."hey look at all of the strawberries somebody else picked and did interesting things with"..."hey, did you know that frozen vegetables are actually pretty healthy?"  It was a steep decline.  I forfeited my role as the gardener to my partner and the gardening became his "thing".  In fact, any association with gardening became nothing more than a loss of freewheeling, unstructured time and autonomy.  So, I turned my back on the whole business.

At the workshop, however, something inside of me started to change.  It was late spring, and we spent about 1.5 hours standing in a muddy patch of ground.  At first, I felt grumpy, I was forcing myself to feel/look interested. However, within moments, the life of the garden seeped in and tamed my grumpiness.  Before I knew it, we were just hanging out with the thyme and rosemary and sage and there was a peace that came into me that I hadn't known in relation to gardening for a long long time.  The smell of the soil, the scent of the herbs on my hands, the gentle, sweet way of talking about the whole thing all changed my mind.  What it all boiled down to  in the end, was new knowledge that perennial herbs, once they are established, do their own thing and keep giving to you in spite of you. They give you scent and lots of leaves to make things with and they just want to chill out.  They don't need all kinds of elaborate attention.

By the end of the session of talking about herbs, making herb vinegar and resting, I just knew that even if I planted one plant this year it would be worthwhile.  I went home and put a sage plant in the ground.  That's it.  I paid her visits now and then but besides that I didn't do much with her.  Essentially, the whole exercise told me something new about gardening, "hey: do less. There is nothing to fail. Just please yourself." Okay, I can do that.