Monday, June 1, 2015

Take me to Church

"Being in my garden feels like church to me."

It's something she used to say, somehow making it sound both off-handed and reverent. As a child, I never really understood what she meant. Summer was full of so many wonderful things: swimming pools, garage sales, bike riding, popsicles - what was so great about standing in your own backyard, fingernails full of dirt,  sweat pouring down your forehead, back aching as you tugged at a stubborn weed?

I think I get it now.

Swiss chards and mustard greens - grow little hipsters, grow!

When we bought our house in September 2012 it already had a cute little planter box, mostly left unloved as the previous owners had been gone since April. There were some bushes spilling over from the neighbours' side, a stubborn pine tree hanging over the fence that did no one any good, and a largely empty stone-wall-bordered garden that ran the length of the fence. Lots of potential, but not a lot actively going on.

An awkward view of part of the fence-length garden
Since then, I've been given bleeding hearts and strawberry geraniums and rhubarb from my mom and dad, taken some incredibly hearty chives from my grandfather's garden, bought a lilac bush and a mock orange and a blackberry bush, and potted some lungswart and irises.  Last year we placed a pallet beside the planter box and I keep adding to the collection of pots we have on it so far, filling them with black earth and whatever looks the showiest at the garden centres. Our vegetable garden seems happy and fruitful (little edible garden pun there for you) and this year looks like it might be its best year yet.

Chives, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, greens, peas, and squash all doing their thing.
There's something deeply satisfying about a hobby that takes something small, gives it attention and watches it bloom. I feel like I'm responsible for creating a little joy, for making the world nicer, even if only in the smallest of ways. It's the same sense of pride I take when I look at Lily, no longer the terrified shaking lump we first met, but now a sweet, funny, sassy neighbourhood watchdog, loving, goofy and, okay, occasionally pretty skittish, but so totally ours. Our garden isn't perfect or pretty or pinterest worthy, but we made something out of nothing and that's never not remarkable to me. Every day I carefully part leaves, run my fingers over new growth, inhale the scent of mint mingling with chives and lilacs and think how astounding it is that all this can come from taking the tiniest thing and giving it love and attention.

I'm not religious, but I think I understand what my mother was talking about. Faith as small as a mustard seed is all you need to make big things possible.