by Sue Bowles
Note: This post originally appeared on My Step Ahead and has been cross-posted with permission.
Ah…..my happy place. We all have them – that place where we can be alone with our thoughts, get a little space from the everyday demands…and just enjoy doing ‘our thing.’ Maybe it’s doing some artwork at a coffeeshop. Maybe it’s cleaning the car. Or taking a walk or riding a bike or sitting in a park. For me, it’s being in my garden.
I wasn’t too excited about gardening when I was younger because it took from my time to listen to the radio or lay on my bed doing nothing…and it was ‘Dad’s thing.’ But years ago when I bought my first house it was funny how certain things from growing up became ‘musts’ at my house. A garden was one of them.
I’ve been harvesting the garden the last week but tonight in particular I had a lot of thoughts of ‘this makes me think of recovery’ as I worked. Let me explain.
We had a bad wind storm early in the gardening season and our tomatoes – which are usually the highlight of the garden – took a big hit. Broken branches and bent stems at the formative time of their growth. It was hard to see when it happened the overall effect the wind damage would have on the plants. Unfortunately, as time has gone on, the damage has become evident.
Usually the tomato plant leaves are bushy and lush and voluminous. This year they look more like skeletons. One plant is all but dead, save the lone tomato clinging to life.
So tonight when I was in the garden it was again time to prune. The branches that have died were still attached to the stem but the leaves were an array of yellow and brown, depending on the depth of ‘dead.’ And the lame limbs were a liability. They were stealing essential energy and nutrients from the healthy stems where blossoms were growing and tomatoes were ripening. They were unsightly, made the plants look worse than they were, and it was time to turn them into mulch. And as I plucked, I thought of recovery and realized my garden is a picture of recovery.
Life begins with a lot of hope. We enjoy growth and look forward to what is to come. Until the storm comes and bends and even breaks some branches. And suddenly those broken branches get the attention. They taint the view of the big picture. They become a detriment. And quite frankly, something has to change. The dead branches cast shadows and get in the way of the fruit ripening to their fullest potential. It kind of became a challenge to discover what was hiding behind a dead branch or a bunch of brown leaves.
And what I see most in the garden is hope. Any gardener knows the season is long and the first fruits don’t always indicate the entire crop but to recover the harvest takes work and focused effort. For me after pruning off the dead branches and leaves to make way for the sun, ‘blossom control’ was the next step. Each stem grows clusters of blossoms and the more blossoms per cluster, the smaller the tomato. I learned from my dad that by plucking some blossoms it causes the tomatoes to grow bigger because the resources are more targeted. It all comes down to what they’re surrounded with.
By now you’re hopefully seeing the analogy to recovery. We didn’t ask for the storms in our lives that caused our stems to bend or break. We didn’t ask to have to fight for survival. The stems suffer damage, die, and break off because they become a hindrance to the fruit they are trying to grow. And we have a choice…we can look at the brown leaves lying on the ground and the dying stems needing to be pulled off….or we can turn our attention to the fruit that is growing and surround ourselves with things and people that help us grow. It’s your garden. You’re the gardener. What do YOU want to do?!