There's something about the beginning of a new year that gives me pause. I don't make resolutions anymore, although I do contemplate things that I'd like to accomplish. This new year, more so than most, has really made me stop and think about what is really important in life. I don't know if this is because of my aging years or because of the craziness happening that started with the pandemic, but things feel different. Of course my family and friends are important. Those relationships give me purpose and hope. But I have also found comfort in the natural world around me.
This year my husband and I planted 2 raised bed gardens. It was a thrilling rollercoaster of emotions as we watched and waited to see things grow. We planted mostly small tomato and pepper plants bought at a local farm, but I did manage to find some Clemson Okra seeds and planted one small row of those too. Every morning, coffee in hand, we would inspect the gardens and thrill at the micro inches that we noticed with our naked eyes. The Okra looked pathetic, but we persisted in babying them along and months later we had incredible strong and tall stalks filled to the brim. We woke up to our tomato plants being devastated by insect or animal and learned about Tomato Hornworms. Though they wiped out my tomatoes one summer day, I was fascinated by them. Once spotted, they didn't scurry away, they kept on their mission or at least they were enjoying themselves too much to be bothered with us. On a gardening site someone suggested I buy a blacklight flashlight and search for them at night. Sure enough any interloper feasting on our plants lit up light a Christmas tree and we were able to move them to a more suitable location.
We also have a huge pear tree in our front lawn and every year since we've been here, which would be almost 3 years now, the tree gets so heavy with fruit that the branches bow to the ground. Pears fall and make an incredible mess. But strangely as I walked out one day this summer I noticed there were no pears on the ground. I was amazed and wondered who might be feasting on those. Maybe the deer I spotted on our security camera munching on our fresh winter crops? I don't know, but I loved watching them, 3 baby deer and their mother, play near those gardens and nibble to see if they liked brocolli.
Have you looked outside around you lately? There is a world outside that goes on without much bravado or fanfare. A world that will bend to our will if need be, but is content to "do its' own thing" unnoticed. Besides our own observations, have you read any books that coaxed you to "stop and smell the roses"? Of course there are the classics, such as Bill Bryson's A Walk in The Woods, or anything written by John Muir. I might even venture to mention Born Free by Joy Adamson, which I read as a teenager and remember crying my eyes out. But I've never really been a big "nature" reader. This year seems to be the year of change though and I have a few books on my nightstand waiting for me to crack the spine and find a nice comfy chair to slowly turn some pages...
"Hold out your hands and let me lay upon them a sheaf of freshly picked sweetgrass, loose and flowing, like newly washed hair… Hold the bundle up to your nose. Find the fragrance of honeyed vanilla over the scent of river water and black earth…”