Weeding and the Contemplative Life

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Early spring weeding. (With a little help from my friend) Photo courtesy of Sean Doucet

I used to hate weeding the garden, especially as a kid in my grandfather’s veggie patch. (He was way too particular for my wandering attention span) When I finally had my own beds, procrastination was the name of the weeding game. I’d wait until it was so overwhelming it would take hours and hours of backbreaking work to catch up. The past couple of years have been fraught with chronic illness and the inability to tend my gardens properly. But this year the illness isn’t as pronounced and my energy levels are much better. Weeding has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Now, every day I’m able to work in the garden is a gift, and getting down on my hands and knees for half an hour a day has been spiritually and emotionally therapeutic. I look forward to the act of tending the garden, pulling unwanted plants that suck the life from my veggies. With every little seedling I yank out of the damp soil, I’m breathing life into the lettuce and beans. The tomatoes and squash are now big enough to overshadow most of the weeds, but the tenacity of timothy and chickweed, nettle and sorrel, still require attention. The close encounters with my veggies everyday cause me to be more aware of the individual plant needs and preferences. For instance, the lettuce does much better when the soil around it is loosened slightly. The roots get to breath, and moisture and food is more readily available to these water loving plants. The suckers on the tomato plants require constant vigilance to keep them in check. This gives the fruit a better chance of growing nice and plump. The pole beans sometimes need a little moral support in the form of a soil hilled around their base, helping them to withstand summer winds. The stresses of life melt away, focus returns, and hope for the future blooms right before my eyes. There’s nothing like a little contact with nature to relax my mind and refresh the creative juices. Weeds and contemplating life make interesting bedfellows.

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