The garden is quiet; most of my vegetable beds are empty, and the fruit trees have gone dormant as the winter darkness descends. I have many plans for the garden and dream eagerly of spring when I can load the beds with fruit, vegetables, and herbs. In the meantime, the beds beg for cover crop, a mix of plants that fertilize the soil and protect it from winter conditions. “Green compost,” it’s called. One of the eight beds has a thriving crop, while the others wait for my loving attention. Come spring, I will chop up the cover crop and turn it into the soil, where it will work its magic.
Gardening creates a balance for my writing. The physical work and time outdoors offsets the hours spent hiding behind a computer. Every time I harvest a vegetable or clear out a weed, plot problems resolve more easily. Scenes appear that provide juice for the story. It’s as though the ideas are in the very soil, and I need only dig my hands in to pull them out like so many beets.
I have avoided the garden lately for reasons I cannot detail here. In my absence, weeds have cropped up, and the remaining greens wonder when I will harvest them. The naked beds call to me to protect them from the winter elements with cover crop or mulch. I long for the day when I can once again dig my hands into the dirt without looking over my shoulder in fear, and I long for the day when I no longer feel the need to restrict and censor what I write here.
Being a spiritual sort, I have puzzled about this, asking myself and my higher power, “What is the lesson here?”
Yesterday I took a deep breath and walked outside, bucket and trowel in hand. I dug up weeds. I planted my cover crop. Is it too late to do that? I don’t really know, but all I can do is try. Somehow it felt that as I created protection for my garden, I was protecting myself as well. By confronting my fears, I could start to take my power back.
One of my fictional characters is having a tough time of it these days. She’s unwittingly gotten involved in a scandal that has cost her her job and her relationship. I’ve toppled her from a high perch, and now she will have to find out what stuff she’s made of. She’s going on her hero’s journey, and I’m not sure how I’m going to dig her out of her many jams just yet. All I know is that for her to have her journey, I must have mine.
As I dug in the dirt, I had a plan. If anything bad happened, I reminded myself, I could walk away without a word and return another time. Thankfully, though, the negative force was nowhere to be found, and I had sweet peace in the garden. I nearly wept with joy, as though reconnecting with a dear friend. I wrapped my cover crop of self-compassion and protection around me, reminding me that I am strong. This, too, shall pass.
Nadine, I am so sorry you’re going through a tough time that is affecting your ability to garden freely. Good for you for facing your fears and going out anyway.
This is another lovely essay where nature winds through your exposition. There is a sadness here, but a very real strength in your words and voice.