Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Constructive Coping Cont'd: What Seedlings Do for My Soul

Recently, I shared some of my coping mechanisms for dealing with grief and anxiety. Thank you for your feedback, I appreciate the comments.

This spring, I noticed another pattern in my behavior. When I'm feeling down, I go to the local nursery. Mom loved gardening, so part of my attraction is the connection to her. But there's also an association to growth and fresh perspective.

I go alone and quietly browse. I walk down every aisle as if I'm in a mandala garden or hedge maze, observing all manner of leaf, bud, stem, and tendril. The earthy smells of peat moss and cedar are alluring. I feel the velvet leaves of woolly lamb's ear and rub the leaves of tomato starts. The scent on my fingers reminds me of the hot sandy soil on the only side of our house where tomatoes would grow when I was a kid.

Greenhouses intrigue me: even on cloudy Northwest Washington spring days, the air is warm and humid. Rain on a fiberglass roof is one of my favorite sounds. 

A money-saving trick I learned from Mom years ago is to find the nursery's sale rack. The plants here are inevitably overgrown and root-bound, usually shelved in the back and out of sight. But I know from experience that in a bigger pot with rich soil and a good pruning, even the most pitiful plants will make a comeback.

Around June, the roses get really showy. Such color! What fragrance! The beautiful blooms and foliage are breathtaking. I picture my someday-garden with a hedge of roses. I've saved the Jackson and Perkins catalogs my grandmother gave me, with her handwritten notes in the margins.  

Growing things in my own garden is therapeutic, too. It's exhilarating to see a boring brown seed magically sprout greenery.

My container garden on the back porch has been especially lush this year since I discovered Jiffy Pots and grew seedlings on the kitchen window sill when it was still too cold to plant anything outside. 

I grew nasturtiums, sweet peas, zinnias, sunflowers, and pole beans from seed. They are all blooming now. The daily practice of watering and watching their growth has been such fun.

I dream about having a yard someday, big enough for a compost pile and a chicken coop. Nothing centers me like the metaphorical significance of fertilizer.

When I'm working with plants, life seems hopeful. I know I'll have to be vigilant in caring for my garden: plenty of water, sunlight, and weed-pulling. But even the most delicate flowers can withstand dry spells with a good root system.

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