What have you been planting this spring?
I spent a long weekend on my block of land recently, with my hands in the soil. After pulling out armfuls of onion weed, I began to wake the garden up with a thorough digging. My spade unearthed one fat worm after another, and as I held it poised in mid-air, the worms slowly turned and wriggled down into the ground again. On the third day I was ready to plant.
As I sat with my hands in the dirt, mixing in lime and sheep pellets, a feeling of great happiness overcame me. From across the valley I could hear the call of the pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo, a song that rose and fell with infinite grace. Closer, through the waving heads of manuka, riroriro, the grey warbler, trilled its carefree tunes.
As I tucked beans, lettuces, courgettes, and the first tomato into the soil, I knew this was exactly where I was meant to be: sitting on the earth in spring-time, planting.
Sometimes, planting seeds and seedlings represents a triumph of hope over experience. Over the past year my carrots, lettuces and kale have been nibbled to death by some creature. What could it be? A possum? A rabbit? Slugs and snails?
I discovered the answer last summer when, glancing out of the kitchen window at dusk, I saw a rabbit suddenly hop out of the bushes. Oh dear. Rabbits are harder to control than slugs, snails and possums. Yet I’ve planted again.
Foolish, perhaps, to plant after losing so many, but I can’t resist. Not to plant in spring feels as impossible as not to harvest in autumn. Since childhood, growing a garden has been an essential way of life and a way of joining the rhythm of the seasons.
I’m wondering if you are a gardener and if planting is important to you? I’m wondering how you foster your connection to the earth, and what it is that keeps you planting, despite setbacks.
Planting with tender hands
There’s a phrase used to describe the action of planting a seedling, where first you tease out the delicate roots and fan them out, ready to move sideways into the soil, and then you firm the earth around the stem.
‘Bedding in’ is the phrase. I am reminded of seed bed, bedrock, and bed-side. For me the phrase evokes a combination of tenderness and firmness. As I bedded in the lettuce seedlings, I knew I was helping them to find a firm anchor in the new soil.
I thought about how my father used to tuck me into bed at night by tightening the sheets and blankets on either side until I felt cocooned and safe. And then I thought about the values we ‘bed in’ when we reaffirm hope—in a child, a friend, a project, a dream.
Discouragement is part of life.
Bedding in your hopes and dreams, over and over,
is a life skill to practise and cherish.
What are you bedding in this spring?
What hopes are you planting?
The best time for an act of hope
When life delivers upheavals, distressing events and disappointments, at such times planting becomes an act of faith, that goodness can be restored and values bedded in once more.
This is what happened for me forty years ago. When after two years in Paris I returned to New Zealand with my one year old son and a broken heart, I ended up living in my bach on the coast. That’s when I started the garden.
I dug in chicken manure from the local farm, and seaweed from the beach. When the water tank ran low, I brought buckets of water up from the stream below. In those days I grew rows of sweet corn, beans galore and fine pumpkins. I cared for those plants as if they were life itself.
The land became a place of deep nurture. Through gardening I practised hope. I learned about regeneration. And the healing power of nature. Sitting there with my hands in the soil still makes my heart sing.
In times of distress, plant something.
In times of upheaval, plant something.
In times of sorrow, plant something.
And, in times of joy, plant something.
May your heart sing too, as you bed in new plants and hopes in this green and burgeoning season.
I find hope in the darkest of days,
and focus in the brightest.
I do not judge the universe.
Would you like to deepen your connection?
How is your connection with nature? Has it become veiled, affected by life events or simply the overwhelm of juggling too many things?
Would you like to find ways of bedding in a connection that will sustain you through all seasons and life events? If so, do take a look at the wonderful online course I’ll be offering again early in 2017.
Sacred Earth has been designed specifically to bring your relationship to nature into a place of power and partnership.
Participants from 2016 said the course was ‘inspirational’, ‘delivering beyond my expectations’, and delivering ‘enormous benefits.’
If you would like to find out more, then please click here.
This post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of my website and receive a free audio meditation.