Safer at Home — In the Garden
By Paul James
If there’s an upside to working from home, it’s that I can take periodic breaks from my computer to work in the garden. Yesterday morning, for instance, it took only 15 minutes to sow a second crop of arugula, two types of leaf lettuce, and some Lacinato kale in a 4’ x 8’ raised bed. Later in the day I pruned the old, scraggly growth on my Heucheras and Autumn Ferns — another quick, 15-minute task. Then back to work.
Another upside to being home, like countless others, is that I’ve met more neighbors and dogs — from a safe distance, mind you — in the last two weeks than in the previous eight years! Many of them stop to chat and invariably the subject turns to gardening. And interestingly, the conversations ultimately center around how people see their gardens as refuges, retreats, places to escape, if only temporarily, from these troubling times.
I’ve always thought of the garden as a refuge. But I do so now more than ever. I have a daughter in Queens, New York, the epicenter of the crisis. I talk to her every day and while she remains strong, I know she’s scared. When she was younger and living at home, we would spend time in the garden together planting, harvesting potatoes and garlic, and, believe it or not, memorizing botanical names like Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ (which she remembers to this day, some 18 years later).
So now when I’m in the garden, I imagine she’s there by my side, asking me questions and making me chuckle under my breath at how she thinks bugs and worms are gross and wasps are hell bent on stinging her. I suppose it’s my way of coping with all that’s going on, and making sure that I preserve the precious memories of the two of us in the garden.
Because in all honesty, I’m a little scared too. Not for myself, but for all my family and friends and coworkers and even the millions of people I’ll never know. After all, these are scary times. I’m just glad I have a garden. I’m sure you are too.
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