Kya Swallows waters plants in the sensory garden at the Montessori School in Chattanooga. Staff file photo.
The memory of creating a garden lingers with me like the smell of a clean, sweet woman. The similarity is the earthiness of each.
I wrote about it in October 1997 in a letter to my dear friend, Cecil Null, the writer of the immortal classic “I’ve Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know,” which has been recorded over 100 times.
He was my faithful correspondent for 30 years. His notes shimmer throughout my journal notebooks like jewels of all kinds and colors.
I wrote to him, “My garden is about gone except for the winter things. Lots of lettuce, spinach and turnip greens. And the Cowhorn peppers just keep coming in.”
“Took down the okra plants yesterday. I have sat at my writing window many months now looking at two long rows of okra blooms on tall plants weaving in Tennessee breezes. This is the first year in my life I have had the mindfulness to notice how pretty okra blossoms are.”
“God hangs out around gardens. I can be stressed and walk out in the garden and I find instant peace. I know God is omnipresent, but hanging out is a very special form of omnipresence.”
The last years of my first marriage were difficult for me and my wife. My Inner Wisdom knew a garden would help and it did.
I could hardly wait to get home and get in the garden. I’d take my lawn chair down there and sit under a weeping willow. Now and then I’d get up and do something but it seemed God would say, “Get back over here and sit down some more.” Sometimes I felt deep emotions from the realness of the peace I was receiving.
I may not be an expert gardener but I do know how to heal land. I took a piece of land with very little top soil, foot-spaded it over and over and worked in 27 truckloads of manure and a load of river sand.
The man who owned the land where I have lived since ’95 used nitrates and pesticides in his garden. I knew it when I stuck a spade in about a dozen places and couldn’t find a worm. Worms are nature’s composters. And I learned that a handful of Lady Bugs is better in a garden than 10 gallons of poison.
The instinct that makes us make babies is kin to the instinct that makes us make gardens. It’s our life’s desire to see things grow. Instead of screaming at people to repent, I think we’d create more spiritual people screaming, “Make gardens!”
My garden partners were nature, worms and a Hog Snake. Mr. Snake would come up several times a day and feast on aphids and assorted bugs. When he saw I liked him, he’d hang out with me for longer periods.
Since an arthritic hip ended my days of making a big garden, I have settled for just planting one or two things each spring. Create yourself a garden, even if it is only 10-feet square.
Send as much love energy into the few things you grow as if you had a large garden. It will give you one sure and certain sacred place of peace and some good, uncontaminated food.
Contact Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.
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