Thanksgiving always makes me pause to review the year, where I am in my intentions, what has been experienced and where I want to be. No matter how the twelve months since the previous Thanksgiving have been, I’m invariably left brimming with gratitude. It is my favorite holiday because it is all about appreciating our lives just as they are and for the gifts we’ve been given in the form of family and friends. Cultivating gratitude is the genesis of happiness.
This year is particularly poignant. There is currently so much strife, heartache and hate mongering in the world that even the simplest of blessings stands out in stark contrast.
While struggling to make sense of the many horrific happenings, I’ve been naturally gravitating to nature. Long walks amongst the fading autumnal vegetation have become mainstays. With the seasonal garden tasks all addressed, I’ve moved indoors to get amaryllis and paperwhites started. The Schlumbergera ( Thanksgiving/Christmas cactii) are beginning to bloom and have been placed to advantage. Nothing like a shot of fuchsia to liven up the days of low light. The orchids in bloom uplift my spirit by bringing up memories of joyous days with family in Singapore this past July. Flower power is a very real thing.
In the kitchen, meals rich in autumn’s bounty give comfort. Sweet and fragrant roasted root vegetables with thyme, carrot soup made silky with goat cheese, shaved Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts and roast grapes, saffron risotto with wild mushrooms, fresh pasta with garlic sauce, arugula and walnuts. So much delicious choice!
All of this points to the obvious. Nature will heal our hearts and soothe our tempers if we will only let it. After all, horticulture therapy has demonstrated its efficacy in helping those battling physical or mental illnesses. Prisoners have been transformed when charged with gardening responsibilities. Adults and children wounded by life experiences have gained confidence and a sense of self from growing a garden. When a person grows the food that feeds him and his family, a profound sense of accomplishment is born. Plants have long been used medicinally and cosmetically. Products that improve our lives gently.
Those of us who have are gardeners have always known to escape into the garden to work out problems, get rid of negative emotions, find solace from trying situations, gain inspiration when creatively blocked. I’ve yet to be let down by a timely dose of Nature. And I challenge you to find anybody who regrets having spent time communing with the natural world. The fact is that if you’re busy in a garden, you learn to respect life and understand that we are each but a small part of a glorious whole. One’s own well-being depends on the well-being of all living matter. It is as simple and as complex as that. And so, if you’re busy in a garden, you have no time or energy to think or do anything horrid.
On my part, this season, I’m paying forward the joy I receive from plants. I’m forcing bulbs to give friends some holiday cheer, a promise of a young tree to be planted next spring to console a grieving neighbor – each year when it blooms will be cause to celebrate the departed loved one, a native plant seed starter kit for a young adult emerging from the fog of mental illness, batches of vegetable stew well seasoned with garden herbs to stock up the freezer of a dear one recovering from cardiac surgery and now on a salt free diet, divisions of choice plants from my garden for a novice gardener. Nature offers as many gifts as needed. Help yourself.
Happy Thanksgiving to you! May it be filled with blessings and plenty of laughter.
Here is some flower power for you:
(c) 2015 Shobha Vanchiswar