Planning my Return to the Garden

   

  Last year was the first year i had ever gardened, and I was truly happy with the outcome. Sure, my potatoes didn’t really grow, the pumpkin was green and rotted thanks to an early freeze, the onions went mouldy, and I had more tomatoes than I knew what to do with – but I also had my kids working hard to uproot carrots, sunflowers that were a joy to watch bloom all summer, a seemingly endless supply of lettuce, and…calendula.

I took a lot of joy in designing my last garden. My 30×20 plot boasted four separate garden beds with a 4×4 raised bed in the center.   

  

It was wild and beautiful, although I admit upkeep was a challenge. Especially since my two boys always wanted to be outside with me, but were only entertained for a short while before running – mostly to our front yard!  Needless to say, my opportunities for weeding were sparse, and generally only conducted on the rare occasions I took an extra day off work.

Through my ventures, I learned that I LOVE being out in the garden. Bugs, bees, and all. I couldn’t believe how relaxing and joyful it was to be outside! For me, the space was beautiful and uplifting.

Yet, I am not interested in doing the same thing again. Many of my veggies and flowers will be seeded again, but I am interested in developing something a little bit unique for my garden design this year. You ready to hear? Wait for it….(drumroll…)

I am going to build a labyrinth!

Admittedly, a relatively small one. It will likely look something like this:

 

Photo downloaded from blogmymaze.wordpress.com


Now the look is going to be a little different, since I am going to have to adapt the center space to contain room for a walking path as well as a 4×4 bed. Each orange line is also going to house plants, so my pathways are going to be very narrow (approximately 1 foot wide) and the beds themselves will have even less room (only 9 inches on some of the slimmer areas). The plants inside the labyrinth will be beautiful, but functional, with some of the plants which need more room growing outside the maze’s walls.

That brings me to Part 2 of my Very Brilliant Design – as the plot is wider than it is long, I will have some space to create four garden spots for the kids!

What do you think? Have you ever tried a design like this? How did it work?

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The True Stories of the Greek Gods

 “…Demeter did not know where to find her daughter Persephone, so she wandered the world looking for her. Eventually, she came to a farmer’s home, and while there, learned the fate that had befallen Persephone. She was devastated; angry at Hades for stealing her daughter, and at Zeus for lying about it. The Goddess of Agriculture withdrew into herself, and the earth froze. The harvests stopped, the people could no longer grow their food. For the first time, the people had winter. They sent out pleas to Zeus to return summer to the starving people, and Zeus heard their pleas. He sent messengers to Demeter, but she would not hear them. Eventually, Zeus realized he would need to make it right. He visited Hades and told him of what had befallen mankind. When Persephone realized what had happened, she told Hades that she needed to return to her mother, and immediately returned to the earth. Persephone had eaten of a pomegranate, however, the fruit of the underworld. Thus, she was destined to return there. When Demeter learned this, she again was heartbroken, but eventually, a compromise was reached. Persephone would remain half the year on Earth with her mother, but would spend the remaining half of the year in the underworld with her husband Hades. So, when Persephone returns to the underworld, the earth again freezes, however when Persephone’s footsteps ascend to the Earthly realm, Demeter again feels joy, and spring returns to the earth.”

One of my favorite Greek myths, the story of Persephone and Demeter is quickly also becoming a favorite of my son’s. The story is fascinating and fanciful, yet somehow it is also a valid explanation for the changing of the seasons. While we are both fully aware of the scientific nature of the phenomenon of the season’s change, the story touches both our hearts. The reason, I am sure, behind his nightly inquiry to see if the story is true. And, while I give him a stogily scientific response, every night his question consoles me because I know that, somewhere deep inside, my son understands the story is not merely a made-up fantasy.

Of course, there are obvious lessons in the story – certainly a type of truth. Don’t kidnap. Don’t collude with a kidnapper. Don’t lie to a mom because she will find out about it and will be pissed. If you end up in the underworld, don’t eat anything if you hope to return. (Ok, now I am just being silly). A lesson that resounds with me is that, no matter how powerful a person is, when you really screw up like Zeus did, a quick apology or attempt to placate will not suffice. In these situations, it takes action to right the wrongs done to another. And just as in the story, some things – most things – can never be truly returned exactly as they were to begin with.

The layer of truth that resounds most for me…the layer which is most thrilling – is the metaphor and symbolism  within the story. The Gods of the Greeks were at once human, and forces of nature. I recognize, in Persephone’s kidnapping by the God of the underworld, the fact that the death of our old lives can come at any moment in time. And while many people think of death as that thing which ends our lives and must therefore be feared, death can also come in the sudden events which change the trajectory of our lives, leaving us to look back on the people we used to be, never to walk those paths again. Sometimes, those events are “negative” – cancer, paralysis, mental illness, the ending of a job, the passing of a loved one, fire. Yet, these moments can stem from “joyous” occasions as well – pregnancy, a wedding, obtaining a job, winning the lottery, moving homes.

Regardless of its cause, when we change, we cannot go back to become purely who we were before, though we may try. Persephone had eaten of the fruit of the underworld; in some stories, the pomegranate juice stained her lips, a mark quickly recognized by Demeter. Persephone had grown up and become wiser while she had been away, and thus could no longer be a carefree maiden. One could say that she had identified her career, her purpose…her calling. She could not return fully to the life she lived before because that was not her; it would have been against the laws of nature.

Yet, she came back. She left the realm of the dead for half a year to stand by her mother’s side. With her, the seasons began anew. The world was reborn, and was beautiful. Death gave way to new life, new seasons, new experiences.

I am writing this blog during Easter season, the season that celebrates Jesus’ death and resurrection. As we prepare for the weather to warm up and excitedly wait for the time where we can plant our gardens, we are moving out of a time of barren-ness and perhaps, change. The need to leave the old behind and prepare for a new life. This is a time to reflect on our journey, past, present, and future. To consider our own inner drama which is as real as any other story. As humans, we have periods in our lives where we withdraw, look inward. We question who we are.  There are also times where we have grow, and flourish. On. A physical level, we see these changes in our seasons, however nature’s laws always repeat themselves. What is true for Nature’s bounty is also true for us, on a psychological level and a spiritual level.

We need Hades to take us away. We need Demeter to bring us home. We need Jesus to show us the way.

We need stories to understand our world as badly as we need science to illuminate it.

And so, every time I see my children’s eyes alight from a story, I smile.

 

Like my sunflowers, I am beginning a new journey

You are well come to this, my new site for blogging! I am into all things spiritual. This month, I am practicing the art of the spirit in matter through gardening.

Now, gardening is not something that can easily be done in the middle of the Canadian Prairies at the end of March. When inexperienced yet enthusiastic souls such as myself begin gardening, we are prone to make mistakes, such as planting my babies… sunflowers, and calendula… two months before outdoor planting time. Now at the beginning of April, my beautiful sunflowers are becoming long and lean teenagers. The calendula, on the other hand, looks a little weary.

I see so many parallels between the growth and potential in these plants, and my own budding interests which are developing into this blog and another site (to be announced soon!). A forever-learner, I worry that I am planting the seeds of my dreams too soon, before I am fully ready. Yet, years spent reading and dreaming have taught me that dreams do not materialize without action. My plants may be growing early. They will outgrow their current homes and may need to be transplanted more than once before they make it into the outside world, however with care, love, and dedication, I have no doubt that they can be beautiful and unique.

When I planted my seeds last month, I listened to the package directions and placed two or three…or four…plants in each cell of my little greenhouse. I am not sure what I was thinking, but it certainly was not that most of those seeds would materialize into individual plants. I did not buy that many transfer pots! Looking at the directions, I saw that I was only supposed to allow the strongest plant in each cell to live, but truth be told, I could not bring myself to kill a seedling when it had a fighting chance to survive. Perhaps it was the mom in me? Consequently I have had to secure many more transplant pots than I expected, so that each of my babies has the opportunity to develop to its potential!

Again, I am astounded at the parallels between the journey of these seedlings and my own journey of ideas! Like the seedlings, there seem to be a multitude of ideas that could be completed if one only had the resources to ensure its growth! As I begin stepping on the path of the entrepreneur, I am aware that some seeds of ideas may not grow as tall or as beautiful as its neighbor. It is so tempting to cut down on ideas to ensure the strongest can be nurtured, but is it the right thing to do? As a beginner on my journey the only fertilizer newly created ideas need is an attitude of possibility. As a human race, we are destructive…We kill our dreams, and I believe it is because we are afraid; we are afraid of wasted resources, of wasting resources, and yet that’s what we do when we cull our ideas. We are afraid of appearing the Fool in our failures, yet without becoming the Fool, we never get to take the journey.

I have started my journey, though I am aware that I am not completely sure of the ground under my feet. Yet, it’s ok to keep my eyes closed for a moment longer…Because in the stillness with eyes closed, I can almost hear those plants sing.