Gardening changes you. It doesn’t matter the scale. It doesn’t matter how long you practice the art. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, or location in the world. It changes you. Because the single woman in a city growing her first tomatoes on her fire escape bites into her first homegrown BLT with the same reverence and appreciation as the hog farmer that raised the bacon. Because what you are cultivating is perspective, gratitude, and known effort.
Also, magic. Yesterday, while slowly handling the heads of chamomile flowers, Shannon told me how to best harvest them for drying for tea. You pull off the heads after the dew of the morning but before the heat of the day. You set them out to dry on a cloth. And repeat the process a few days until you have a jar full of the dried flowers. She explained this to me and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much intention can be poured into that eventual cup of tea. Imagine if one morning you were outside plucking blossoms in the June sunshine. Imagine if you could circle yourself, in that moment, in a glass bubble. That the to do list, the chores ahead, the bills, the social anxieties; everything from the outside world could not reach you in that space.
Imagine you then took a moment to take in the swell of calm washing over you like warm water. For whatever reason you are in a place, a body, a time that isn’t being ravaged by bombs from an invading force, that isn’t starving, that has eyes to see, limbs and fingers to reach… Let nothing but the realization of how damn lucky you are right now fill your heart.
You might be broke, or anxious, or unhappy with a million insignificant things - but you can’t escape the perspective and gratitude that in this moment: all there is to do is pick flowers in the morning sun. So, now, imagine picking those flowers with the intention that some night in the colder future, those herbs will be added to tea. Perhaps mixed with other native herbs - mint, nettle, catnip. You’re telling me that those sips, months from now, as a cold rain pelts at your windows, and you feel the memories and calm and stillness of the tea you prayed beside, meditated over, and understood from blossom to belly- that it isn't magic?! Because you have chased that moment to the end of desire. You have completed the work, and your efforts and time now have you holding this elixir of mindfulness. This magic is for all of us. It’s free if you can get a hold of some seeds and dirt. Every seed is a spell. Every fruit is a promise kept. Every vine crawling is a hope. Every blossom is a chance. And if you keep doing this, year after year, you only get better in your craft of turning possibilities into reality.
I’m heading out into the sun to pick those flower heads now. I will be thinking, hoping, praying of that warm cup of tea in my farmhouse months from now. Picturing myself wrapped up in a chunky cardigan on a cold day and sipping that chamomile tea… Because there is no certainty I will make it there. Even if the farm makes a windfall of money and the mortgage is paid off in full - I could die of a heart attack while running, or in a car accident, or fall off a mountain. But I will gather herbs in hope that I get to keep gardening. And get to stay on this farm that took a scared and broken girl and turned her into a woman. And hope for another circle through the seasons where I am planting chamomile again in cold earth wishing for sunlight.
You can wake up willing to understand your luck and circumstance while being grateful you’re not in immediate pain or danger. Or you can wake up upset that all you already have isn’t enough. The who you are isn't enough. But the first option is always there, a choice to make if you can. Wake up with the mindset of a gardener praying for more time.
Be quiet with this.
Accept that in some little ways, magic is real,
and carry on.