Friday, April 20, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever?

I am trying my hand at gardening. The IDEA of backyard horticulture has appealed to me for a long time. Unfortunately aspiration and execution are two different things. My lone attempt at growing my own vegetables is embarrassing. We had a big yard and I thought my baby daughter, Alicia, deserved pesticide-free, home-grown veggies. With health in mind and hoe in hand I trotted off to become an Arizona version of Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? And contrary I soon became. The first problem was the ground was like cement. In fact I learned it WAS cement or caliche, a natural form of concrete. After a few attempts at hacking away at the anvil-like soil, I asked my husband, John, to ready the area by digging it up and creating rows. I, of course, would do the rest. My memory is hazy, but I think he not only tilled the soil he probably did most of the planting too. No problem, I would pull the weeds and water. Again, I have a little historical amnesia. I remember pulling some stringy weeds, but maybe John wound up assuming the watering duties too. At any rate, when it was time for our harvest our bounty consisted of two snow pea sprigs and a bunch of radishes. Planting radishes was John’s idea. I think radishes are nasty so of course they proliferated like bunnies on a holiday. In retrospect, I was young and did not have a realistic idea (or attitude) about the work a garden would entail. I thought I’d throw a few seeds out there, squirt them with a hose and something would magically happen. Well, something did – a plethora of nasty radishes. However, since John did most of the work it only seems fair he could eat his bountiful root vegetables with relish (or mustard?) I know I’d have to put something on it to make it edible for MY taste buds. Now I live in the Pacific Northwest. The ground is soft and rich. The owners of the house where I now reside not only planted a garden, they put a fence around it to keep the munching deer at bay. When I first moved in I noted a few weeds in the garden, but I thought I could handle it. I just needed a nice sunny day to get started. Problem numero uno. Waiting for a sunny day in this neck of the woods is like waiting for hell to freeze over in Phoenix. While I bided my time rain came and weeds followed. During this interim I traveled to Arizona for my high school reunion. When I returned a week later my garden became a field of dandelions! So now I have to pull weeds before I can plant. These weeds are actually kind of pretty, but they are weeds none-the-less and they will not help my garden grow. It reminds me of negativity. People have all sorts of reasons for having uncharitable thoughts, speech and actions. Many pessimistic individuals claim that while a negative outlook may provide fewer positive results, it also protects them from disappointment. Unfortunately, negativity is more like a cancer than a protective shield. It starts small, and may seem innocent enough at first, but if not minimized, it can grow out of control. Waiting for the right time to change your grouchy tendencies is not in your best interest either. Manure may be good for the soil, but a poopy attitude is not and neither is procrastination. It’s like my experience with my weedy garden. So what can we do about it? Let’s take this example a step further. Imagine each negative thought you have is a crabgrass, curly dock or broadleaf plantain. Sometimes weeds can look like the beginning of a “good plant” so you may be hesitant to pull that puppy out. However, weeds, like negativity, become easier to identify with time. Once you make a conscious effort you will recognize the culprit, pull it out by the roots and substitute bad thinking with better thinking. Or in the gardening world, substitute crabgrass for something tastier such as my all-time favorite fruit - strawberries. Whether it’s reducing grouchy thoughts, speech and actions or battling the urge to procrastinate, creating a happier life is a lot like gardening. It takes work, but the rewards are worth the struggle. Speaking of struggle, as I write this article he sun is peaking out and my garden beckons. It’s time to do a weed purge. And as I pull each offending plant out by the roots I will try not to curse the earth I hope will nourish me. I have no one to blame for this mess but myself. And after all my hard work is done and a necessary amount of time has passed, I will be well on my way to (forgive me John, George, Paul and Ringo) strawberry fields forever.

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