Spring Cleaning and Getting Dirty
It’s May in Minnesota, a time when this girl’s heart turns to the thoughts of longer days, working in the garden, and memories of ex-boyfriends. Yes, while everyone around me is shedding their winter coats, I choose to wrap myself in the past and actively pull out old feelings from the almost-but-not-quite-forgotten times. It’s my own style of spring cleaning – I can’t really move forward with a clean slate until I reevaluate all the messy or dusty things that have brought me to this particular place and time. Once I revisit the previous versions of me, I can focus on where the current me wants to go next. It’s never about the exes… it’s about me. What was I doing at the time? What made me happy? What did I learn during and after each relationship? And, most importantly… where should I put my energy going forward?
This kind of emotional closet cleaning is anxiety producing and exhausting for me. One way I’ve learned to deal with it is by digging in the garden. My mind can wander and replay old scenarios while my hands work through the resulting discord. I can dig up large areas of weeds or pluck them out one at a time. I can plant new beds with colorful flowers or dig holes for bulbs. The options for stress relief are endless outside. I love it.
When The Hubby and I moved into our house, we had NO idea that we had just purchased a Master Gardener’s garden. Here I am, well versed in only petunias and pansies, the new groundskeeper for a backyard of meticulously manicured flowerbeds full of plants I had never seen before. The backyard was beautiful to look at, but oddly cold and uninviting (kinda like a neighbor’s living room with the plastic covered couches; pretty to look at, but you know it’s only for show). Needless to say, it didn’t take long until we implemented a more… Darwinian approach to the landscape. The original plants that required special types of mulch or extra acid or whatever, slowly faded away, and were whimsically replaced with anything that caught my eye: echinacea, black eyed susan, iris, astilbe, phlox… bright colored messy perennials that brought the butterflies and fuzzy bumblebees. I’d sometimes spend long days at garden stores, choosing plants that never had a chance in our garden, but I didn’t really care. I enjoyed being outside in the dirt and sunshine, digging and planting.
Now that I know what the plants are in the backyard, I love to watch the garden wake up from our long winters. But I am impatient, and almost have to sit on my hands every spring to keep myself from going out in the dirt too early. The first few years in our house, I’d start planting things too soon because I would need to go outside for my natural stress relieving fix. I have learned, however, that the garden is a partnership sort of thing, and if I want the garden to be happy, I have to wait until after the final frost before I get dirty. That’s when the perennials really start to come up, and only then can I safely start planting anything new.
I’m not a natural gardener; it has been completely trial and error learning for me. I’ve planted things that never had a chance in the places I’ve chosen for them. I’ve even been known to mistakenly place plants in spots that already had established items. I can get forgetful over the winter and don’t always remember what I dug up the year before, or where I might have put something new. Luckily the garden keeps doing its garden-y thing, year after year, even when I make poor choices or mistakes. Sometimes my mistakes aren’t bad ones, and the garden turns out beautifully. Sometimes I don’t make mistakes at all and get it right from the start. Sometimes plants never grow. Sometimes they go nuts. There are no absolutes out there, which is a good takeaway message for me.
Message of the Day: Transferring the excess energy created from your internal dialogue to concrete activities can be both helpful and healthy for the whole you. Too much frenetic internal word salad isn’t good for anyone.