As a child, I didn’t value walking out into my backyard and entering a field overflowing with pretty much anything a child could want if it grew from a seed in the earth. My family planted a communal garden every spring. Back then, I had no idea it was called a communal anything. I simply knew all my aunties, uncles, and cousins would show up to clean and plant during April and May. When June rolled around, we all got to see the fruits of our labor. It didn’t matter if they lived on the land or in Atlanta, GA, everyone in my family had access to the fresh fruits and vegetables we’d planted earlier in the year.
I had no appreciation for the organic farm-to-table life I had as a child growing up in Lower Richland county. No idea of how fortunate I was to come from a gardening tradition where everyone could partake of the bounty as long as they were willing to work and maintain the land. I spent so many summer mornings following behind my Uncle Tuck with my little metal pale gathering weeds and fallen leaves; I thought everyone and their momma’s woke up at the crack of dawn to get an early start on the gardening. My cousins and I happily endured the early mornings because, at the end of our work, we received fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and whatever melons were ripe. Simple. Easy. Wholesome.
That’s what gardening means to me. Simple living. Easy joy. Wholesome values. I had no idea there was a day dedicated to gardening. I’m glad to know someone thought to set aside an entire day meant to inspire and encourage people to get out in their yards and plant their trust in beautiful black soil. To sow their seeds in plots of land and commit to nurturing them until they sprout and grow. Simple. Easy. Wholesome.
Of course, the history of National Gardening Day is based on capitalism but who cares if Cool Springs Press, publisher of best-selling gardening books, started this day to sell more books and make more money? What I’m choosing to take from April 14, 2021, is the simple, easy, wholesome joy of getting my hands dirty and committing my time and energy to love something into being.
The HEA (happily-ever-after; AKA husband) and I didn’t raise our children in a rural environment like both of us enjoyed–and took completely for granted–but we’ve worked to instill the simple, easy, and wholesome lessons our rural upbringing taught us. Many of those lessons were learned as we worked in our respective family gardens. Following behind the highly respected elders picking weeds, pulling pole beans, digging potatoes, or being yelled out for pussyfootin’ around when we should be workin’.
I’ve done some container gardening here and there but this spring, I’m giving my green thumbs another try; returning to some of the other traditions I grew up with surrounding gardening. My grandmother was a wise woman. A kitchen witch. A woman who knew her way around herbs, flowers, plants, and a host of other aromatics to bring about balance within the body, mind, and soul. I didn’t realize just how wise she was to make my cousins and I drink pot-liquor before every winter. Or how she protected our home by using juniper needles to smudge the perimeter every three to six months. I just l liked the way the smoke left the house smelling and thought that’s why she did it so often. Simple. Easy. Wholesome.
The longer I live in the fast-paced world fueled by social media algorithms, fear and ignorance the more I understand the wisdom of my grandmother and her use of herbs, flowers, vegetables, fruits, and trees. She understood the magical properties of nature’s bounty. The symbiotic relationship established between us and it… designed by a Universe to ensure the success and harmonious development of our world.
For this simple reason, celebrating National Gardening Day is an easy decision. I’ll be planting my hedge-witch garden, smudging my home with white sage and juniper needles, and eating a wholesome vegetarian meal with my family in honor of all the wise women and men who planted the seeds of simple living, easy joy, and wholesome values deeply in my soul. Many of them are no longer here on this physical plane, but I know they’re proud of the wise woman I’m becoming.
Remember, life is a journey, and just because you wander doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lost.
How will you honor the wise women and men who came before you on national Gardening Day?
“We are all inextricably connected to our mother planet and to the food she gives us, but many of us have forgotten that the connection is a sacred one. When we remember, then food may become the key to sacred experience. Our bodies will open the door and show us the way through.”