The Strength of Living Beings

Again, way too long since my last post.  I think part of the problem is that I want to focus on garden and garden-realted topics, and the winter is not exactly the busiest time of the year out there.  Still, there’s plenty I’m thinking about.  The snowfall we had Thanksgiving week gave me the opportunity to do what I’m always reading about in gardening books by authors who live in harsher parts of the country–to look at the bones of my garden.

Yes, gardening is about color, and foliage, and scent.  You pay attention to the textures on bark and leaves, and the forms of the plants, whether geometric and tidy or loose and sprawly.  But wintertime allows you to see a sort of x-ray of your garden–the real underlying structure.  The outline of snow highlights the forms you have in your borders and beds, and provides an excellent opportunity to see where improvements can be made.  After making an assessment, head back in to your warm chair and a pile of catalogs, to dream and hunt for the perfect plant(s) to make your garden more right come spring.

This morning I got to enjoy another wintry walk with my Dane.  It snowed just a bit yesterday and has stayed cold enough that there’s still a bit sprinkled like sugar here and there.  On top of it is a layer of pebbly hail that fell last night, providing a great crunch underfoot.  While warming back up over breakfast my thoughts turned towards the strength and toughness of living things, both plants and animals.  I found myself enthralled at the simplicity of life itself, and how persistent it is.  I remembered how I used to so delicately remove plants from nursery containers, wary of tearing any small roots.  After many, many transplants, other than where gentle handling is required, I am pretty free at just dumping out the plants, ripping into those root masses, slicing and tearing and cutting away.  And these plants survive wonderfully–maybe even more healthily, responding to their new environment more quickly.

I believe that life is a force of nature.  Continued survival, at its most basic, is really quite simple.  People have really distanced themselves from the essence of survival, in my opinion, by trying to do so much to alter the world around them.  Yes, we need appropriate clothing and heat and food.  We want to be comfortable.  Yet our bodies are made to work.  Are we doing ourselves favors by buying power equipment to mow the lawn?  Maybe if you used a push-reel mower or swept your front walk with a broom you would be able to let that gym membership go!  I look around and see that everything I really need to survive, and not only that but be comfortable, I already have.   I truly want for nothing.  This is the small wonder that struck me this morning, outside on my walk.

I wish everyone a safe New Year’s celebration and a happy New Year.  Times are tough, but we will all survive.  Take comfort in the basics.  Let the simpler side of life surprise you–allow the fresh air to nurture your body and the world around you nurture your soul.  Most importantly, take time to notice the smaller joys within your everyday life.


About Ilana M Calvert

I have a Master's degree in Environmental Horticulture, but I spend my time pursuing fiber arts--weaving, knitting, and spinning. Occasionally I dabble in Scottish-style fiddle playing. Most importantly, I am a wife and a "mom" to a beautiful Great Dane.
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