As my schedule has become more flexible over the last six months, I've found myself spending more time in our garden. We occupy the suburban standard quarter-acre, with a sunny and well-lit front yard and a treed and fenced back yard. Neither saw particularly much attention over the first decade or so that we've owned the house. With little kids and full-time jobs and grad school, just getting out and mowing was about as much care as I could provide. Our back yard barely even needed that, as the frantic scramblings of our hyperkinetic dog obliterated what had once been a lush yard. It reached a point where the yard looked more like a dirt lot, or a heavily used elementary school soccer field at the end of a long season.
There's a bit more breathing room in life now, and I began the season by working and reseeding our back yard. Given some attention and watering, the grass is back. But with the growing of grass, I found myself wanting to get more dirt under my nails. So I have. I've been able get out into the garden and do more than run a thrumming four-stroke mulching mower through a cloud of recently released cis-3-Hexenal. With so much potential for growth, it seems silly to be using that time to just grow plants that don't bear fruit.
So over the course of the last month, a splotch of browning neglected elephant grass in front of our house has disappeared, and in its place has appeared the first growth of a strawberry patch. A pair of planters in our back yard that were mostly used for growing a miscellany of weeds have also found themselves suddenly sprouting strawberries. A blackberry and a troika of blueberry bush plantings now sit near a sun-drenched front wall of our home. In the next month, the odds are good that a pair of dwarf apple trees will rise next to the two lovely dogwoods in the front of our house.
The dirt and the weeding and the digging is a welcome change from the omnipresent screen-time and car-errand-schlepping that can otherwise fill my day. I like the feeling of it, frankly. It changes the focus of life, and brings a deeper awareness of the natural cycles around me. You feel a drought more when you're trying to get life to rise from the earth. The rain feels more welcome. Adding that to my pattern of living feels like it deepens my connection with the living world around me.
And that is welcome thing.