Saturday, December 17, 2011

Greening my Fingers

A vegetable garden is an essential item on the Elastic Mom lifestyle list, no matter whether it consists of a few pots of produce, or a cultivated field.

A vegetable garden provides:

Therapy for  overstretched emotions.
Something to feed those ever hungry mouths for barely there pantries.
Healthy vitamins to nourish our human treasures.
A hiding place for peace.
Encouraging rewards, reaping relative to sowing.

When life is stretching your capacity as a mom, a quiet visit to your vegetables can feed your soul. The process of touching soil, digging fingers into cool, moist sand is soothing. Many summers ago, I assisted with a toddler enrichment program. Each week we provided tactile stimulation in the form of baths of seeds, sand, cotton wool, and more. Each week the toddlers' mommies would sit around the baths, unconsciously running their hands backwards and forwards through the calming yet stimulating textures as they chatted. My gardening gloves usually end up in a little heap somewhere as I relish that bare handed contact with my garden.

The repetition of weed pulling, trimming, digging or picking calms any frazzled nerves. My precious  mum once advised me, her busy buzzy daughter, to make time for reflection on a daily basis. Slowing down to gardening pace always sends my thoughts into helpful rhythms of reflection. While my hands create order in the garden, my jumbled thoughts settle and anchor into gentle perspective.

A stormy conflict, when taken to that green place, subsides into thoughts of forgiveness and reconciliation as the accepting soil absorbs the angry adrenaline. Judgement evaporates in my garden. Sorrows weep into the soil and feed my plants. Comfort comes in the form of blushing tomatoes, abundant beans, those delicate spears of asparagus that surprise me with their sudden arrival. The predictability of plants is safe when life is painfully unpredictable.

In times past I have opened the pantry door with dismay, racking my brain for inspiration. The three relentlessly grumbling bellies that appear in my house three times a day stretch my creativity and resourcefulness on a daily basis. Whether I am low on flour, eggs, energy or enthusiasm, my garden never fails to inspire and equip me for the next heaped up set of plates on the table. This week my energy levels were low, so low that I had skipped my religious Wednesday trip to town, resulting in a rather pathetic store of basic ingredients. A pleasant walk through the vegetable patch resulted in an almost gourmet pasta dish...  with thyme scented creamy zucchini sauce sprinkled with halved baby tomatoes and chunks of feta, eaten on the patio,  accompanied by cocktails. Who would have known the cupboard resembled Mother Hubbard's.

The enzymes and vitamins contained in food that was growing twenty minutes before eating, is incomparable to days old produce that has travelled home in a hot car and sat in the fridge for a while. You can taste the crisp, fresh life in it. A nurtured tomato is so much sweeter than one out of a plastic bag. Sweetcorn picked and eaten raw within minutes is indescribable. I love knowing that my family are being nourished with the best quality food that I can give them,

 I love people, and some people dearly. My family is so precious to me. Yet occasionally the voices and the music and the busyness, and the demands, and the life of being a wife and mom starts to suffocate me. An introvert is refreshed by spending time alone. An extrovert is refreshed by spending time with people. My vegetable garden sometimes serves as a hideaway for much needed solitude and prayer. Sometimes it is also a place for quiet connecting and communicating with my man, away from two sets of inquisitive ears. We weed and trim and chat and pick and crouch side by side, just two again for a brief interlude. Being just one, or just two, is good in the garden.

Sometimes, to my dismay, the sowing into my children, their home education, my marriage, or my friendships, produces unexpected results. In the world of people sowing does not necessarily produce equivalent reaping. But my vegetable garden is comfortingly predictable. That predictable outcome suits my mathematical brain. Vigilance, sustained effort, diligence and sowing results in joyful reaping of delicious rewards. A little care results in a generous response. My garden is forgiving and gracious and good for my soul.

So however you are stretching your resources, I believe that every elastic mom requires a vegetable garden to feed her family and her soul.


  1. This is such a beautifully worded post, Cath. So much common sense and beauty here. We live in rented accommodation currently and we crave our own garden. It will come one day but for now I find my peace in knitting, sewing and writing about others' gardens.

    I am so pleased I stopped by.

    Happy serenity to you and your family.


  2. Beautiful post Cath! I really felt it touching my soul as once again we seem to be in that same emotionally stretched place for different reasons at the same time. Your words and thoughts are a blessing. Praying for you my friend.

  3. Thank you for your kind words, ladies. Yes, the rhythm of knitting, sewing and crochet is also so soothing. Blogging and journalling are cathartic too.

  4. I can't agree more, my friend, we currently have 11 people in our home and its wild and noisy...and my garden is such a refuge while I pick delicious salads or marrows or beans for our big meals.