It’s not work

My garden is a mess. The kind of mess where you can hardly find the things you planted. I spent the better part of Sunday working out there.

A little order amid the weeds

I turned over new beds and planted chard and more carrots. I tied up peas and tomatoes. I weeded and weeded and weeded. Spending time in my garden was a perfect way to spend my birthday. My back would tell you I worked outside all day, but it’s not really work.

I love gardening for the fresh cilantro I pick, wet with dew, for my breakfast burrito and for the golden cherry tomatoes warm from the sun (it’ll be a while, but they’re coming).

I love when my big girls says, “Can I make a salad for dinner?” and then collects and spins and chops (and eats!) it.

I love my peonies, heavy headed and drooping after the rain, and the feathery cosmos that settled in on their own and are starting to announce themselves.

But it’s not just what comes out of my garden. There’s something about the the planting and weeding and tying and checking, something about the process, that soothes me and refreshes me.

I came in Sunday, feet and hands black, face smeared with dirt. My back was tight, but my shoulders were loose. My garden is still a mess, but I wasn’t.


That evening my friend threw me an impromptu party with ribs and margaritas and for dessert the simple version of this cake and this ice cream, both of which I made because I love the rhythm of the kitchen (when it isn’t grumbly get dinner on the table time) as much as I love the rhythm of the garden.


Sunday I found more strawberries hanging like jewels under green leaves. I ate one and shared the rest with my girls. There’s spinach almost ready to pick again and the first tomatoes forming. And, I noticed with surprise and glee my garlic is beginning to get scapes, so I’m dreaming of pesto and pizza and lazy summer dinners. The garden is a lot of work, but it feels more like rhythm and dreams and rewards and hope.It looks like like work, but it's not when you love it.


What do you love doing so much it doesn’t feel like work?

Row by row, bit by bit

row by row, bit by bit; take time to smell the flowers—and watch the beesI’m on the porch watching a butterfly and bumble bee dancing through the rhododendron. My knees (and shins and feet) are still dirty from the garden. The garden that I thought would never get planted is a sea of green, the peas and greens and broccoli lost among the weeds. I look at all those weeds and think of the laundry piled up and the bags still to unpack from my weekend trip and the make up work that got sidelined as I focused on my dad’s health and my mom’s retirement party, and I’m overwhelmed.

My kids are exhausted and volatile from staying up too late the past two weekends for family events. My big girl is at the end of preschool. I don’t know if this transition is more momentous for me than her. And they are out of sorts, not quite getting the seriousness of the situation with my dad, but sense my stress and distracted attention.

So I look at that weeding that needs to get done and the laundry piles and the bags to be unpacked. I look at all the items that got shifted from my to-do list to my do-later list. I’ve barely written the past weeks, and I didn’t run at all last week, even though I know these two things help keep me balanced.

I don’t even know where to start, so I start small: two loads of laundry in the morning, one bag unpacked and tucked away, the quick emails and check ins for work just so I can cross multiple items off the list. Then I went for a run because my body needed it and my mind needed it. I came back with less time to get things done, but more focused, less overwhelmed.

I look at the garden again and decide I’ll start with the peas because they need it most. I work my way through one row and start the next, while my big girl cuts lettuce for a salad. Every time I look up at all the weeds to pull (and the flowers to deadhead and the green beans to plant and . . . ) I take deep breathe and refocus on the row I’m working on. I take a sip of my ice coffee and savor the shade as I dump the weed bucket. I take a break to push my garden helper on the swing, and when her TV show is on, I sit on the porch and watch the butterflies and the bees and take a minute to write, because we both need a little down time. It will all get done—one row, one bag, one load at a time—or I’ll figure out that some of it doesn’t need to get done at all.

Take a minute to write, Just Write.