Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zen and the Art of Vegetable Maintenance

With a later shift at work today, I was afforded a little time at home this morning to tend to the various things that need addressed around a homestead: dishes, laundry, watering the containers on the porch, and, of course, the never-ending chore of weeding the garden.
I've taken to this enormous task lately with zeal, using it as sort of a time for decompression and meditation the way some people do with an evening run or a beer after work. Since everything, including the weeds, sort of exploded with life once the rains subsided, there's no shortage of work here in my plot of earth, allowing plenty of time for reflection.
I'm on my third day so far and have freed the bean plants and the cucumbers, discovering steadily growing foodstuffs amid the undergrowth. I've also made progress near the peppers and tomatoes, which, in exchange for supporting me in finding momentary peace, will have my help tomorrow getting support from their stakes.
This month's been a trying one for me as I struggle with keeping on top of the needs of the homestead, learn to balance the demands of my jobs and discover things about myself and my limitations and try to discover a path that's uniquely right for me. My moments alone in the garden with the silence and weeds give me space to think, to imagine, to channel my anger in a positive way, and, when necessary, to grieve. Each plant I rescue from being choked by the invading grasses is like a part of me saved, a small portion of my life redeemed and, for a brief instant, I am filled with purpose.
My garden and I are very wabi-sabi, tattered, overgrown and homely. It, as well as me, will never be manicured and pristine, free from flaws and untouched by the ravages of time. We are imperfect, this land and I, and rather than rally against what I cannot control, both in weeds and in life, I'm learning to find beauty in things as they are and discovering ways I can cope with these challenges as they come. It's a long and arduous process and, much like my garden, might never truly be finished. It's a process and I'm struggling, but in the company of friends and loved ones who are helping to cultivate me as I work to cultivate my beans, tomatoes and the rest of my garden.
As my hands grow calloused from my moments of gardening Zen, my heart's getting softer, my body stronger and my mind more clear. Who knew such a chore could be such a gift.


  1. What an exquisitely beautiful way to express the analogy between your weeding pursuits and the challenges you face. I was deeply moved reading this and can relate whole-heartedly. T~

  2. Beautiful post, Heather. You definately have a gift with words! Hoping all is well with you!