“But take heart. This too, shall pass. God is in heaven. All is right with the world.”
THE world seems to be at a standstill these days. Blame it on the pandemic. But now it has become apparent that the pandemic crisis is being stretched by powers-that-be to a full-blown political “scamdemic” using fudged numbers and false science for some kind of sinister agenda.
The restrictions on life, living and making a living are NO longer about public health. It has now morphed to the extreme and ugly exercise of political control over the lives of people just yearning to be free so that they can simply go about living normal, unencumbered, productive lives.
But take heart. This too, shall pass. God is in heaven. All is right with the world. And gardening brings this truth out in the open ever more clearly.
You can’t do much of what you used to do, at least for the time being. But no one is stopping you from growing and caring for your garden, no matter how small it is.
Somehow, you have to get your creative juices flowing even during adverse conditions. It’s a mental health regimen. For some, it could be knitting, sewing or blogging to earn some bucks. But for a number of people, it is gardening.
For city dwellers housed in apartment buildings, your garden can be a grouping of a few flowering plants or green foliage in terra cotta or plastic pots in a corner of your balcony or porch. It may be a few square feet of sun-soaked or shady piece of land in the front or back yard of your house. How about checking out if you have community gardens you can tend. Or if you are one of the lucky ones, you may have lots of space, an acreage or a whole front yard or backyard as your canvass to afford you the luxury of creating your own lush Eden of fruits, vegetables and flowers to enjoy and share with others.
For this is where it comes down to. We need to create for ourselves a refuge in our garden to teach us lessons about patience, hard work, the cycle of the seasons and perhaps, most importantly, about life itself and its seasons, cycles and abundant blessings.
Some gardeners prefer the quiet solitude of potting and repotting plants and getting their hands and fingernails soiled in the process. It’s a welcome timeout from all the junk and the hype the media and the internet spew non-stop to shape a concerted narrative or an agenda. In the self-imposed quiet, they can hear themselves think, clearing the cobwebs of their minds while they pull out the weeds, prune unwieldy branches and leaves, deadhead spent blooms and spindly twigs, sculpture their topiaries, fertilize the soil, spray pests away or the simple joy of giving plants a soaking shower on a summer’s day.
Some, like me, prefer to listen to Glenn Miller’s bouncy “In the Mood” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” or music from the 1920’s and 30”s wafting from my phone tucked in my grubby jeans’ back pocket. Somehow music gets me going even when the sun beats down on me until I am all sweaty and thirsty. The bees, wasps and hornets come buzzing and begin attacking me while staking their territory they think I am encroaching. I defend myself against these pesky winged creatures with the water spray from the garden hose shooing them away but ultimately losing the battle and retreating to duck and take cover.
Then there are these tiny yellow and white butterflies that flit and float about. I stifle a giggle when tiny shimmering green hummingbirds hover close to my face when I sit very still, arms tucked in and pretend to be a Venus de Milo statue.
It’s a dirty business, this gardening bit. But when you see the results of the work of your gnarled hands, somehow, you get a small sense of satisfaction. I know that in time, all the flowers that bloomed, all the seeds that took root and grew splendidly under my care, all the plants I propagated from cuttings and gave away and yes, all the beauty that I thought I helped Mother Nature bring about will eventually fade away, die and become mulch. The colors I nurtured will fade and eventually turn brown. Sigh. But that’s the way of all life. Quiet acceptance comes. I know life will go on with or without my help.
At the moment, I enjoy time well spent. I relish the joy of small accomplishments. Being out in the sun for a few hours gives one Vitamin D-3 which they say is effective together with Vitamin C and the mineral zinc, which altogether give us protection against the virus. Inhale the oxygen plants give off while they take the carbon dioxide we exhale. And please, no masks.
I come suited for it. I wear a fancy wide brimmed hat to protect my skin and my eyes from the sun, long sleeved cotton shirt and loose denim jeans; I put on gloves and putter around in my old, sturdy, comfy Made in the USA rubber Sloggers on my feet. I have the paraphernalia for cutting, pruning, staking, wiring. I have pots and shards. Yes, I do the whole nine yards although my garden is tiny and insignificant. In time, I won’t be able to do this any more. It’s a lot of physical, grunt work best left to the capable. Finding a gardener I can hire who can do what I direct with my forefinger is on the menu when the time comes.
I have a collection of gardening books which I enjoy leafing through. These books make me dream. I am tempted to put as an item on my Bucket List, a visit to Monet’s garden in Giverny in France from which the impressionist painter got some of his inspiration. I have seen the Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge a few times long before the pandemic shut it down. I would like to see other gardens too, Renoir’s, Cezanne’s, the Busch Gardens one day when normalcy reigns once again.
I depend on low maintenance succulents and ferns for all year greenery and do a few forays to the local nursery to see what can work color-wise in a tiny patch of earth with limited sunlight on a northwest orientation. I long to grow roses but I can’t have them so I just enjoy my neighbors’ gardens facing south with full sunlight for more than 8 hours.
They have those old pedigreed magnificent roses that give off their aroma unabashedly.
My elderly neighbor, Fred, now long gone, used to give me cut purple roses from his backyard. He said they have been growing for more than 40 years. The scent of those roses was just glorious.
Tend your garden specially these days. It is your postage stamp version of nature at your fingertips. In some curious way, gardening gives you spiritual dividends you never thought you’ll get, like perspective, balance and equanimity. It’s a big word —equanimity— but all it means is a state of being that gives you composure, even-temperedness and the mental calmness needed during these difficult times.
Some in the political arena subscribe to their nefarious mantra of never letting a crisis go to waste.
I say instead, “Never let a downtime go to waste.”
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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org