Sunday, June 9, 2013

How to garden without gardening

I have been laid up with a sore knee all spring. For a while I was limping along, but for the last month it's been bad enough I've been on crutches or using a cane but mostly parked on my butt. The vegetable garden has been my priority on the days when I can get around a little, so the perennial gardens have mostly been fending for themselves. It's my annual spring arthritis flare-up, and while it has been something of a pain, it could certainly be a lot worse.

But this isn't about my knee, it's about my garden. Specifically, what happens in a garden when there's no gardener tending it, during the most fertile months of the year.

The plants grow.
The flowers bloom.
The weeds multiply.
The world does not end.

During my enforced sit-on-my-butt days (which feel like they have gone on, and on, and on) I have been keeping myself occupied by knitting and listening to audio books. A few days ago there was a moment in the book when a character, reflecting on a war brewing in the book's imaginary world, mused that there might be nobody to see the peonies bloom the following year, but that they would still bloom.

Isn't that the truth, I thought, and if I needed proof all I had to do was look out the window.

Do the peonies care that I haven't been fussing over them? Nope.

Do the poppies mind that they haven't been staked and are sprawling with abandon over their neighbours? Apparently not.

And it seems I don't even have to plant things in order to have flowers, as evidenced by these volunteer foxglove.

Yes, there are weeds everywhere, and I'm going to pay at some point for letting the annual weeds go to seed, but in the meantime they're acting as a pretty good ground cover which is good because I haven't got around to watering, either. 

There is a humbling lesson in all of that: how much do I really matter? I don't mean that in a self-pitying way. I mean it in a reverential I-am-a-mere-mortal-looking-Mother-Nature-in-her-glorious-face kind of way. When it comes down to it, the idea that I can control what happens in my garden is sort of ridiculous, and I think Mother Nature is being very kind to let me try.

But at the end of the day I am still a gardener, and I'm itching to get in there and start cleaning things up. But even though my knee is slowly starting to feel better I know the worst thing I could do is overtax it. So I'm thinking tomorrow I might set the egg timer for 15 minutes, and see what I can get done. The next day, if all goes well, maybe 20.

But that still leaves me today, one more day, to watch the peonies bloom.


Shim Farm said...

Oof! Sorry to hear your knee's been giving you so much trouble. My mom recently underwent knee-replacement surgery. She's happy to be able to move about with less pain and get back into her beloved garden this summer.

Are you being followed by a rheumatologist? And is the elimination diet doing any good? I really feel for you...arthritis is not fun to deal with.

In the meantime, enjoy those peonies, and remember to take it easy out there!

Miriam said...

Hey Ann! Thanks for your concern - yes, I have a rheumatologist, but there sure aren't any miracle cures, and my experience has been that the "medicine" is almost worse than the arthritis... The elimination diet was a bit of a bust because I couldn't ever get to a symptom free state, so I'm just following a no gluten, dairy, soy, corn, nightshade, sugar, caffeine or egg diet. I'm not sure if it's having any effect on the arthritis, but in every other respect I'm feeling great!

That's great news about your mom - being able to move more freely must be wonderful for her.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I recognize that kind of frustration, too.
But you're right, and those flowers are beautiful proof of it: Nature knows her job!

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