Confessions of The Giggling Garden Gnome

I have a confession to make. I have been a bad garden gnome. Things around here have been so stressful. Can you relate? 

Everything is so damn expensive and everyone is so cranky and on edge. Just going to the grocery store is an ordeal I have to mentally prepare myself for. Between family getting sick, holiday preparation, kids activities, and trying to get some work done, I barely have time to let out a healthy fart, let alone do anything for myself or garden.

But that isn’t all of it

I confess that I’ve been struggling of late. I have been tired and overbooked, yes, but I’ve also just been having a series of bad brain days. I’m forgetful and grumpy. I haven’t wanted to do ANYTHING even if I had the time to do SOMETHING. 

So, it was time to get out of this funk. I gave myself some time to feel my feelings and now I have to climb up out of the doldrums before I take up permanent residency. Outfitted in my cargo pants, flannel shirt, and work boots I headed out to survey the damage. Let’s just say my garden has been feeling as poorly as I have. 

Nearly everything perished in the early cold snaps we had. The kale, calendula, and alyssum are the only guys really thriving at the moment. My raised bed had gotten big gaps in it that needed to be filled. Leaves covered every square inch of space that was NOT a garden bed. Grass had snuck in and begun to blanket every spot of soil that it could find.

My pets are feeling it, too

Suffice it to say,

I had my work cut out for me. But that’s okay. I don’t have to do everything by myself, even though my control freak brain makes me think I do. So, I asked my boys to help out. My eldest heroically slayed and gathered all of the wild parsley that had swallowed the yard. My youngest put on a soliloquy of suffering for the neighbors to enjoy as he raked leaves into the various garden beds.

I dug a new hole for the next round of composting and hauled the soil to the raised bed to fill in the gaps. I always put logs and sticks in the bottom when I build the beds and that causes gaps after the wood has been broken down. The wood is great for the plants because it absorbs water, so there’s a bit of water storage. It also provides nutrients and warmth when it starts to decompose in there.

We pulled up and potted some pepper plants that were still healthy enough to be rescued and called it a day. If I am being totally honest, I did not think that it would make me feel better. I mean, I knew it would make me feel a little better to check something off of the scroll of a to-do list I had going. But I didn’t think it was going to affect me much beyond that. I certainly did not think that I would have MORE energy after all of that physically intense labor.

But, you know what?

It did. It really did. Since then, I have been able to do a little bit more each day. Even if it is just cleaning up one little plant pot by the porch, I have done something to interact with the garden and it has helped me to come out of my funk.

That’s the thing that is so amazing and fascinating about working with the earth. You’re always told to spend some time everyday in your garden, but it is phrased in a way that implies that it is entirely for your plants’ benefit. That is not true.

I’m not going to spew all of the facts at you. I’m not going to expound on how there are beneficial bacteria in the soil that release happy brain chemicals (but if you want to research on your own, it is FASCINATING). I’m not going to tell you all of the data about how soil boosts your immune system. Or how just being around plants will elevate your mood. Not today. I’m also not going to tell you all of the many details about how being grounded (or making physical contact with the ground) is soothing for your spirit. Or how happy it makes the spirits, gnomes, and fairies in your yard to see you taking care of your patch of earth. 

What I will say is that your garden needs you. It needs your attention and care, so it wants to heal you, too. It is the most uncanny and astonishing thing when you are paying attention. I have had plants that I didn’t plant or know that I needed pop up in my garden. Then, something would happen or I would learn about it. And it turns out, it was exactly what I needed at the time.

Chickens always make me happy

Anyway, the point is…

If you have found yourself in a place of deep unhappiness, listen up. Also, if you’re so overwhelmed you can’t even stand the idea of taking a shower, I’m talking to you. If you’re running around in circles and never feel like you can quite catch up, come closer. Listen, you are doing great. 

You are such an amazing and magical being. You are doing enough. Even if what you are doing is resting, it is enough. But, go spend a few minutes in your garden. Don’t go out there to make a list or freak yourself out. Don’t worry if it looks like crap because you haven’t been out in a while. In fact, don’t even worry if everything is dormant because you live where it is cold.

Bundle up and get out there. Do what you can. If that is just sitting in a chair surveying the scene before you, do it. If you feel like cleaning the place up some, go for it. You could even just put out bird feeders to help out the local wildlife through the winter. Sometimes, I like to sit and draw or write. The point is to spend time there and not stress yourself out. 

Let your garden feel your presence and let yourself be grounded by it. Gardening might not take the place of therapy, but it certainly helps. I hope you have a great holiday season. I hope you find peace and calm. And I hope your plants are thriving. If not, we’ll try again next year.

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