Letting Go of Straight Rows
August 29, 2016
“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells,
And Marigolds all in a Row.”
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Can you smell it? Fall is coming! And that means that this week I will begin to plant my fall vegetable garden with the help of my two kids and awesome husband. Soon, little seeds of radishes and swiss chard will be all nestled in, waiting for their daily watering and long drinks of sunshine.
It’s a big job to plant our garden each season, with 720 square feet of raised beds, I need all the help I can get! And I love to plant things…IN A ROW!
My kids know that when we pass an orchard while driving, that no one is to speak in the car so Mommy can have her “moment”. I stare out the window and breathe deeply as I focus on the nice neat rows of trees whooshing by, not even ONE out of place. This is my visual “happy place”.
These are Apple trees in full bloom at Deardorf Orchards in Minnesota who grow the BEST Honey Crisp Apples in America in my humble opinion. Take a moment and breathe them in…admire the nice neat row…isn’t is lovely?
By nature, I am creative, not well organized, and thus my world is a constant state of visual clutter being made and cleaned up.
So when things are in a nice neat row…this is a BIG DEAL. My soul rejoices each time giving my mind a moment to rest in the order of the trees. And rest, is good.
I didn’t always grow things. It all started with a few chickens. And chickens, I now know, are the gateway drug to gardening.
It happens subtly. You are sitting at the table, eating your eggs and toast and you think to yourself,
“A fresh tomato and some basil
would be great with these right now.”
And then just like that…I decided it was time I planted my own rows of something tasty.
A friend had recently given me a book on square foot vegetable gardening and I was immediately in love. Nice neat squares with plants all in their rows…it was PERFECT!
It was efficient, it was pretty, I read the book, and I could do this.
In typical Keri fashion, I decided to GO BIG OR GO HOME, building more than 720 square feet of raised garden beds. That’s….720…nice neat little boxes to fill. Gulp. I didn’t really calculate that part ahead of time, I just pointed to our awesome handyman Dean and told him where I thought they could go. Oh well, lesson learned.
“Remember the ROWS” became my internal rally cry.
Plus, it will be great family time together I told myself. The kids and hubby are going to love this!
I spent weeks planning it all out on paper, knowing exactly how many seeds needed to be in EVERY BOX, and how far apart they needed to be to make the perfect rows. My brain almost exploded in the process, and before we even started planting, I recognized that this was not as much fun as I thought it would be.
But, “REMEMBER THE ROWS”!
Next, my family and I spent several days measuring, then stapling string to the tops of my boxes to create my ultimate square foot “happy place” garden.
Breathe in the boxes…
don’t they make you happy??
Then planting day came, and admittedly I was like a garden Nazi, ordering my family around, pre-digging all of the holes so the kids didn’t mess up the perfect lines of my perfect garden. And let me tell you…they loved it.
Ok, not true…they grumbled and complained loudly, took way too many “lemonade breaks”, and seemed to have to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes…ANYTHING to get out of helping plant the garden. And if I am honest, this behavior, combined with my quest for garden row perfection, caused some “not so nice words” to come out of my mouth. Not my best Mom moments for sure.
What had I done? I took this potential happy place and turned it into a FUN-sucking zone. And why? For some straight rows? Some idea of what a garden should be?
Let me tell you, a pretty garden with straight rows, just doesn’t look as good when there are sour faces in it. So, something had to give if I didn’t want to plant the garden alone next time. And that something was me.
So this planting season, I am practicing LETTING GO of the rows…
and LETTING IN the sunshine that imperfection can bring to life…and to my garden.
Because, I know that radishes taste the same whether they came from a straight row or the crooked one planted by my daughter’s helpful hands. Dipped in butter and a little truffle salt, my family will be all smiles as we gobble up every last one of them with delight.
I will choose to focus on the REAL Blessings of my imperfect garden:
- It feeds me spiritually, physically and emotionally. It delights my soul to dig in the dirt.
- It feeds my family healthy food that we grow with no chemicals, just tons of love.
- I creates family time in the sunshine where we work together side by side to plant, harvest, prune, thin, weed, and squash the many bugs that try to eat our bounty before we do.(the bug squashing is the best)
I WILL NOT focus on the rows, but on the taste of green bean gone wild, and the volunteer tomatoes planted by the birds in all the imperfect places.
I will embrace the chaos, and the lesson in letting go it brings.
I would rather have a garden planted together, than one planted in solitude and stress.
Just as I would rather have a house full of giggles, than one that is always nice and neat.
Because real life doesn’t just grow in straight rows, but blooms from scattered seeds tossed in the wind AND seeds purposefully planted.
A mix of both is good for the soul and for my family.
This is my actual garden today…no more rows and a whole lot of YUM!
Letting Go of Straight Rows,
FHB and Especially Me
Let’s Chat About It:
What do you need to LET GO of in your life?
Is your quest for Joy squashing other’s Joy in the process like mine was?