On letting things grow

Last week I dug up the garlic, pulled up the peas and hung up the last pods to dry for seed, harvested more calendula petals and lavender for infusing in oil, picked more gooseberries for jam. My gardening tends to the wild side. Laissez-faire gardening. I’m in awe of the abundance and resilience of the plants that arrive unexpectedly. I’m in awe of LIFE, how it thrives without any tending from me. I wonder about the purpose of each plant, its particular niche. I try to find a use for whatever I can. I let them grow, and grow. And then I become overwhelmed and start pulling things up by the handful, as I did last week. Sometimes, in my sudden desire for order, plants that I originally planted and tended get pulled out too.


I envy friends with weed-free gardens. I also envy those who know how to keep their lives simple, who know exactly what their priorities are from beginning to end. In my own life, I see a pattern of enthusiastically embracing of what’s growing, then becoming overwhelmed and a little crazed and pulling things out right and left. It’s not ideal. I need to check in with my garden, and with myself, earlier. I’m getting better at this. But when I look at my life and think hard about what to nourish and what to weed out, it’s not always obvious. I am always curious about what is growing unexpectedly, between the rows. I want to see what develops.

I don’t know if I believe in a perfect balance. I admire those who know how to sequence: first I’ll focus on this, and then later this. I have done this at times. I also see that now, for myself, i want everything, all at once. I want to pursue my own projects; I want to throw myself into community and deep relationships; I want to learn; I want to do the subsistence work and the emotional work and the intellectual work; I want to find a way to develop my gifts – such as they may be – and bring them out into the world. I want to watch with curiosity what is developing between the rows.

I’ve questioned and considered what’s important in my life; none of this is here by default. I’m going to be forty next year; there is so much I want to be doing right now. But I also want to homeschool my kids – because I’m so in love with this way of learning and living – and that often becomes the last priority, in terms of planning. It’s not ideal.

But if I can allow myself to embrace all of this, the mess and abundance of it, the LIFE in it all, then I can also find the peace and stillness underneath, the rightness of it for me. This is where I am. Messy and alive. Curious about what’s growing. And always a bit overwhelmed.

Right here.

How does one start a blog if not tentatively?

First two months to choose a title. (Who am I kidding? I changed it again yesterday. Then again today).  Then another month to find a picture for the front page. Then another month to stare at that page for a while, then get up and do all the big and little things that need to be done, over and over again.

It’s summer. The middle of July. Surprisingly, not sweltering and close and heavy with smog, but deep blue skies dotted with clouds, bright sun and cool breezes. More like September than July, my neighbour commented over the fence, possibly more than once this week. But the raspberry bushes are drooping with fruit, the peas need to be pulled up, the garlic leaves are browning at the tips. Doing the work of picking and preserving, tending, cooking, starting knitting projects, reading out loud to my children, reading silently to myself; this is what brings me back to the earth. For several years I’ve been feeling like I’m about to fly away, restless; or that I’m already flying, darting back and forth, wildly swooping and changing direction, like the arial feeders I so admire (all of them – swallows, dragonflies, bats), trying to catch something that is always moving away from me. I only wish I could be so graceful.  

I chase ideas, I chase new skills, I chase some answer to my questions about my place in the world. I know I should love the questions (“like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue”). Really I do. I’ve read and reread that passage from Rilke so many times.  

But tonight I’m sad. Sadness that I’m not going to ascribe a story to but just feel. Because the world tonight is beautiful, and my tentative, unsure, but maybe grounded place in it is beautiful too.  So I’ll start right here.