Have you done any planting yet?
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. During the past months 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 don’t know if the new seedlings will survive the unknown predator. All I could do was to set a possum trap, pour beer into a slug trap, and surround each tender plant with a ring of crushed eggshells.
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.
Why am I wondering this?
Because I’m remembering a time when something happened that jolted me, and showed me the pain of not being able to place my hands in the soil.
In 1969 and 1970 I lived in Paris. In the second year, after our son was born, we moved to a converted garage at the back of the house of M. and Mme Bisson. There was no garden, but we had a pot on the window sill with a cheerful little green plant in it.
One day the pot fell out the window and the soil spilled out. Immediately I looked around for some more. That’s when I realized that there was no soil.
Our surroundings were covered in concrete. So were the streets: cobbles or tarseal. As for the green areas in the parks, I’d been chased off them by men in uniforms ever since I’d arrived in Paris. There was no earth to walk on, no soil to fill the pot.
That’s when I realized the pain of being sealed off from the earth. I’d grown up believing that some things—like mint, parsley and lemons—would always be a few steps away. In Paris these things, and even soil as well, had to be bought in a shop as a commodity.
In the wave of homesickness and earth-longing that engulfed me, I dreamed of returning to our small block of coastal land back in New Zealand. Remaining in the urban environment of Paris felt untenable.
When finally I returned with our baby son, (alone, but that’s another story) I went to live on that land, and stayed there for the next four years. That’s when I started the garden. In those days I grew rows of sweet corn, beans galore and fine pumpkins. 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.
The land became a place of healing and nurture. The sense of connection began to deepen from that time and has continued to the present. Sitting there with my hands in the soil still makes my heart sing.
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Would you like to deepen your connection?
How is your connection with nature? Has it become veiled, shadowed by grief over what is happening to the earth?
Would you like to find ways of fostering a connection that will sustain you through all seasons and events? If so, you may want to know more about the new online course I’ll be offering in 2016.
Sacred Earth has been designed specifically to bring your relationship to nature into a place of power and partnership.
If you would like to find out more, then click here and read the page I’ve created.
This post is from the Seasons Newsletter. If you’d like to receive the full Seasons Newsletter by email, you may sign up on the Home Page of this website and receive a free audio gift.