The garden has been put to bed. The final rounding up of leaves, mulching of beds and last of the bulbs were planted this past Sunday. It happened a bit later than usual due to the shockingly cold weather we recently experienced. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from completing the seasons chores before repairing indoors for the winter. One feels like one has delivered on being a responsible grown-up.
With my favorite holiday approaching fast, thoughts of gratitude filled my mind as I went about the tasks in the garden. Having this patch of earth to cultivate and call my own is in itself a prized gift. To tend land is so basic to humans and yet not always appreciated enough by those of us who primarily
garden more for pleasure than necessity. By having a garden, I feel I have been specially chosen and given custody of it for posterity.
The rewards of gardening are innumerable and I often wax eloquent on the subject. For maintaining physical, mental and emotional health, putting hands to earth cannot be beat. This has always been understood through the ages but research has established the sustained benefits of connecting with nature. Gives our puttering around the garden solid credibility.
As I take care of the myriad to-dos, I recall the many high points I’ve enjoyed through the growing seasons. The flowers, the vegetables, the birds and the babies they hatched here, the butterflies that never failed to thrill, the inspirations for my writings and my art, the visitors on Open Day so generous with their praise and, countless moments that awed and humbled. The garden hosted so many gatherings with loved ones: it provided place and reason for much laughter and fellowship. It also provided solace when I needed it and a sanctuary for quiet and contemplation. I am overcome with gratitude for my piece of paradise.
Looking back at the year I see how much I’ve been given in the garden and beyond. Even in the difficult moments, there were always the ‘helpers’. By allowing myself a retrospective of sorts, I am empowered by the received bounty and come the New Year, I can look ahead to being and doing better. In the big picture, all the minor grievances fade into oblivion. I firmly believe gratitude begets hope and optimism. The mainstays of all human endeavors. The work of one who attends to the land is the very embodiment of hope and optimism.
Those of us privileged to have a house with property often take it for grated or acquire it as a symbol of some level of success and affluence. In the context of the population at large, we fail to consider how few of us are given this precious gift. Being thankful should be the first and last thoughts in our minds every single day. But on Thanksgiving day, we should be rejoicing in this and all the people in our lives full on. Nothing else should matter. Surely we owe ourselves at least one day of the year to be completely present and give thanks mindfully and deliberately. Consciously counting ones blessings is perhaps the single most powerful factor in how well we live our lives.
So, when we are bombarded and barraged by retailers and media to toss away the opportunity to spend valuable time with family and friends and instead spend the time shopping, we ought to take serious umbrage. No person or organization should be permitted to invade our lives and disrupt the most fundamental essence of our humanity – to share our selves and break bread together. That is priceless and sacred.
(c)2014 Shobha Vanchiswar