I’ve been thinking lately, that the big fall harvest gets all the glory. It is the star 🌟 of the show. Mainly corn, winter squashes, tomatoes, peppers, and whatever fruits you grow in your zone. I know that celebrating the big harvest represents so much. So much work deserves recognition. But what about all those small moments in between before the big show?
So that remained me of my little neighbor who came to see me the other day during the spring and asked me if there was something to “pull” (harvest). She walked into the garden. Then, with a disappointed look turned to me and shrugged her shoulders.
This was early spring. I showed her the carrot seedlings 🌱, snap peas sprouts and pointy leek bits. That was exciting to me. There was nothing to pull off the ground at that time, so this 8 yr old said, she’ll be back when there was something to do and walked off. There were tons to do, but I understood what she meant. There was nothing “familiar to harvest”. It made me giggle for a bit. Then I thought. How could I convey all the other many benefits there are, just a step away from our kitchen door, if we just take a moment to be still, listen, look, and wonder?
Let’s think like a kid I thought. Why do kids eat something they like again and again? Is it because of its high vitamin content, micro and macronutrients, and fiber? Or is it because they like how it tastes? Hopefully not because of the sugar rush….let’s assume is healthy and tasty ok?
Most probably it is because they like how it tastes. So when I am in the garden, I put in some work, lifting, planning, working the ground, etc. So what is that I like? I like how I feel after the exercise, because of the natural endorphins generated after a workout. Is that it?
What about when I’m not breaking a sweat? When I’m not doing, just being?
When I am outdoors, I have the opportunity to be surprised by the miracles of Nature. There are different bird songs as the day goes by. There are different birds and different songs during the day. Butterflies are so delicate, and strong at the same time. One day there is a caterpillar there, eating your parsley, fennel, or rue plant, then the next morning there is a hard-looking Chrysalis that I swear looks like Batman would have built it.
Squirrels, lizards, snakes, a gazillion bugs (that’s a post of itself), some rodents, and hawks over my head. ….all of this is happening between the door of my house and 4 feet to my first raised bed. Less distance to the herb garden, and much more fungi activity; different types of fungi, colors, and shapes. Lots going on out there. Never do I feel alone.
I get distracted by the blend of colors in the butterfly and the design on their wings. Who designed it? Perfectly symmetrical. The deep blue crest on that blackbird? Is it a he or a she? That lizard is brown, that one is black and the other one is green? Is it camouflage or different lizards? Ok, what did I go get again? Ohh yes, I needed some onions, cilantro, and greens for my salsa. But… look at that bee, how deep its antenna goes into the zinnias (one of my favorite flowers). And how do all the geese know to fly together in that amazing formation? And then …..what are those two lizards doing? Are they….? Is that how they?… Hmmm, I’ll have to google that.
Many many times I wonder how things work, how they communicate, how is that carrot over here in the pathway when I planted them way over there. Is it the lizards or the squirrels who are playing this replanting game? How little tiny frogs, that have been sleeping all day, all wake up at the same time, fill their flat bellies with air, and make the loudest song. It is loud and organized. How
beautiful a flower is, the aromas holy basil gives, how calm I feel when smelling ginger greens, etc. The oils from different herbs have a calming effect and are different at different times of the day.
All of those how-s are what I call, cultivating wonder. Is a child-like feeling that makes me smile. Yes, I’m typing this and I’m smiling. It is a feeling of awe, more than intellectual curiosity. That is my candy, my “I like how it tastes like” thing. And it feels good. I know is good for me, and it tastes good.
When I go get (harvest) lettuce, kale, carrots, etc, I am also aware, and attentive to where I am stepping into. It is a practice of mindfulness. The experience of being surrounded by an ever-changing environment, seriously the surroundings change daily, sometimes hourly is amazing. If you pay attention. That practice of being mindful of where you are is a side effect of a healing garden. That stimulation that goes on in your brain, with mood-enhancing hormones cannot be reproduced by buying the pill in a sterile environment, because is a multilayered stimulus. Sounds, smiles, texture, energy reception, memories, etc. Being grounded in a garden, with the aromas, of plant, animal, and insect life makes me more receptive to the invisible part of the universe that has no bar code to scan. There are energies and connections to the spirit. If I listen. If I am aware.
So you see, I understand that the big harvest is a celebration, and rightly so. It is also in the process of every day, tending the garden, and small pickings that we slowly get doses of life energy, that recharge and balance us out. I say that is worth my time. That is valuable and tasty. If I could put the high I feel into a bottle I don’t know that I would. I would miss the show.
Now I just have to show my little friends all that’s going on in the garden in between harvests. Minus the lizards, minus the lizards.
Food for thought. Any garden would do. Herb garden, containers, or just open green spaces where to take a hike. Sometimes our backyard there is a wasted opportunity. Let’s not wait until someone tells us is time to celebrate to get a daily dosage of life.
Founder of GrowHealth4u.com