Sharon April 7th, 2008
I’m not real zen. That is, I am not the sort of person who finds it easy to simply be in the moment. Ok, I’m really awful at it. Which is one of the reasons I enjoy reading Colin over at NoImpactMan so much – there’s a mindfulness that comes across in his posts that you simply will not find in mine.
I’m very good at multitasking, and am often contemplating my next post or something I should be writing while I’m simultaneously sorting laundry and helping Isaiah write his name. And while that ability makes parts of my life more manageable, I have a very hard time getting to a place where my mind and body are doing the same thing at once. It is a useful skill when it is wanted – but it doesn’t have an off button. Sometimes all that stuff, all that thinking about the next thing and the next gets tiresome, and I wouldn’t mind if it would simply get a little quieter in my brain. I’m told meditation techinques could help me with this – and it is something that’s on the 50,000 item list of “things to do when I get a chance.”
Today, however, I am reminded of why all this noise in my brain does not drive me stark raving mad. I had almost forgotten, in the months since I touched dirt out in its natural habitat, what it is like to go into the garden. And then I got to do it.
Today it was *finally* warm enough and dry enough to plant out in the garden – pansies along the side of the house, peas, mustards, tatsoi, mache and spinach in the main garden. And so we trooped out, the three boys and I (Eli was at school, Daddy off teaching astronomy) with our respective tools (Asher had a spoon and bucket, Simon a trowel, Isaiah a small garden claw (not sharp), me my big pointy serious one), our seeds, inoculant for the peas, greensand and kelpmeal to feed the plants. It was rather a production, and we made a proper bit of pomp and circumstance about this first venture.
And then we were out there, and getting dirt under our nails (and in our hair in Asher’s case). And all of a sudden, things went quiet. I don’t mean the children were quiet – they weren’t. We discussed earthworms and why plants need minerals and what molecules are. They were doodling about and being their usual noisy selves. But instead of spending the time working in my head on an essay about what to do with your appliances once you don’t need them anymore, I just gardened. I just touched and smelled, put my hands into the soil, and loosened it. I was just there. I could hear myself again in the quiet. And I remembered – I garden for food, but also, I garden because it is the best way into myself that I know of.
In springtime, we say a lot of schechechayanu. This is the Jewish blessing for things you haven’t done in a long time, as they come around in cycles again. We say the blessing at each holiday and special occasion, when we first seen the trees bloom and the birds return. And the kids and I said one today, for the planting of the first seeds of our season. For me, it was a moment of gratitude, as the season of raucous, noisy life begins again – and the season of quiet starts too.