Gardening for Healing

Suki, Robin botie's Havanese dog in Ithaca, New York, in the garden with a beeI’d been up all night with a cough and an upset stomach. And longings. And worries. The cap on my well was cracked. The recent rain made the house leak. And I was waiting for the electrician to show up to fix the outlet by my desk. It was dead and the Internet was dead. The list of things to take care of was long and all the NyQuil, soaked towels, re-booting, recycling, and flipping fuse-box switches had not helped. Nothing was working right.

By midday, it was past the time the electrician said he’d arrive. The well repair company had not called back. My stomach still ached. My head ached. Outside it looked beautiful so I stashed the cellphone in my pocket and walked the dog. Quickly, she did everything she could. She trotted back to the door and waited as I yanked a couple of stray plants. The garden by the front door gleamed with color. Sunlight and shade played on the foliage. Soon the dog and I were both pulling weeds.
“Whoa, look at the length of this vine, Suki,” I said to the dog as I tore it from the earth with my bare hands. She lunged for it as I tossed it aside. “Is this a flower or a weed?” I asked her, deciding to save it and wondering which of us knew more about gardening.

My friends don’t share their bulbs or culled plants with me. For years I warned them anything they gave me to grow would die. But this year I’d made an effort to trim and keep the weeds out of my garden. And every bit of tending had paid off. The daylilies, the daisies, and many mysterious forms of flora bloomed like never before.
“You have hydrangeas back here,” my friend Liz said when she came to saw off the thick juniper branches that bullied the butterfly bushes. We had stood together admiring the dahlias and petunias she planted for me. And now I was ripping up dandelion greens with the dog.
“The first sign of a snake or an earthworm, we’re quitting,” I told Suki.

An hour into gardening, I was singing to the single peony plant. I was singing to my daughter who died. The electrician had not shown up. No one had phoned. My fingernails were caked with dirt and Suki’s fur was riddled with burrs. But all the things that were missing or falling apart in my life had stopped shrieking in my head.

 

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9 thoughts on “Gardening for Healing

  1. Pingback: Free to Fly | ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE - EVEN JOY

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Lovely, Robin. And great photo. I’ve proved over and over again that no matter how lousy I feel physically or psychologically, the world looks brighter in the garden or in the forest or with hard physical work. So why am I sitting at this computer? On my way outside to pick lettuce.

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Wouldn’t it be neat if we could gain followers by gardening? Sometimes on Twitter I pretend that I’m weeding when I attack my following and followers lists. I think I learned that from you. Anyway, let’s quit this computer scene for a bit and go garden. Happy lettuce.

      Reply
  3. Lynne Taetzsch

    So glad you found a way to heal in the garden, Robin. Weeding has never worked for me, but other things have–a walk in the woods, a session in my painting studio–even when I don’t feel like it.

    Hope you’re feeling better!

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Hi Lynne. Weeding still doesn’t work for me, especially if I bump into earthworms or the snake that lives in my garden. Walking in the woods is my thing too. You are so lucky to be able to lose or find yourself in your painting. Feeling a bit better, thanks. Cheers to you.

      Reply
  4. Norman Wacks

    Hi, Robin. I’ve been following you for a while now, as I’m guessing you know. Kind of a neat way to stay in touch, albeit from a distance. I think you’re an excellent writer – I feel as if I’m with you (in your garden, this time) when I read your updates. I’ll call soon. Love, Norm

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Hi Norm. Welcome to my online home. No, I had no idea you were visiting. Thank you so much for replying. I’m still so grateful for your sharing your home when Marika and I needed help. Four summers ago – it seems like forever. Cheers! And love.

      Reply
  5. AnnetteCorth

    Robin,

    What a wonderful photo! It was great before I even scrolled down and saw Suki there. Then the greatness was overlaid with charm. Gardening is indeed therapeutic, especially for someone possessed of an artist’s eye. Keep weeding! It is worth it. I have to come over and see your garden. Love, Annette

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Most of my garden is from you, Annette. All the bulbs and flowers you gave me continue to grace my garden and my life. I think of you a lot these days as I admire the colors of irises and lilies. Many thanks.

      Reply

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