With my many allergies, hayfever, irritable skin and so forth, I am not particularly fond of being out in nature. It is either too sunny or too full of bugs and biters, or simply too full of allergens for me to feel comfortable. (That is one of the reasons why I love being at the ocean side.) But in the last two weeks I spent hours in our garden, despite all this.
Despite the hayfever, working in the garden did me good.
Yes, I wore gloves to protect my hands which already started blooming with eczema. Yes, I took care how I use my back. Yes, I wore a hat and boots and sunscreen. Yes, I looked like a complete idiot, but I did not care. We had had a gardener in before, to remove unwanted plants, prune the roses, and tidy things up a bit. So, there was bare soil waiting to be sown with flowers. There was space to plant new berry bushes and flowers. And there were still many tiny maple trees to be removed from the weird places where they choose to grow. The thorny brambles had to give way to the tamed berries as well.
It is comforting to bring order to a patch of earth in crazy times like these.
I may not be able to control the irrational behaviour of some crazy politicians, but I can plant a bush. Eradicating stupidity out of international politics might be slightly above my pay grade, but those brambles I can handle. For now. With help from others. Probably not for long. (Did I mention my embarrassing sincerity?) To be sowing flowers is always a promising idea: it lifts the spirits and shows how life always wins. But in times like these it is definitely therapeutic!
But apart from control and future beauty, why did I enjoy nature all of a sudden?
I am still not sure about that. In part, it was to not be thinking about the state of the world right now. Concentrating on the best places for the plants, trying to imagine the end result in summer or autumn, did not allow my brain to worry about anything else. Trying to get hard earth to break up, trying to dig out unwanted roots, tearing out reluctant and mean-spirited plants – my body had to do things. My body is not used to do those things. So, part of my consciousness had to be focused on my body, but in an unusual way. Interesting.
Digging in the dirt. There are few things that ground you better than to work in nature.
One more thing was interesting: the silence and peace. If it had been a Saturday, there would have been people working in every other garden around me. But it was Tuesday, so I was basically alone with the birds, the bees, and the cats. (I will not go into the spider story. Period.) There was no music, no talking in the background, nothing apart from the garden itself. Oh, heaven!
Being surrounded by nature’s sounds is healing.
My head is the place of my body I live most in. This is just a fact, no judgement. Working with my body was a nice break. Although I really enjoy being back to my normal today, I remember the joy of having a fresh cold glass of water yesterday. Sweaty, dirt up to my elbows, smiling at the cat taking a sand bath in a flower bed. But really the thing I remember the most is how sweet it felt to have a shower and put on fresh clothes after tidying up the garden.
I felt best afterwards. I always do.
As I said above, I do not really enjoy being in nature, even if I know that I am part of it. But I enjoy how I feel after having spent time in nature! That can be a long walk by the sea, a garden party with friends or planting some flowers, I love it when it’s over. That might well be because I am civilised. Or call it denatured. But I take it how it comes. If there is no allergy trigger, bug bite, sprained ankle, or blisters, after the work there will be feelgood hormones.
And we need all the happy hormones we can get right now.
I am old enough to understand how my brain works these days, so by no means expect me to work in the garden every week from now on. (Our garden is used to be a happy wilderness, and so are we.) But as long as I feel tempted to do so, I will go with the flow. Because this tiny patch of our world seems to be kind enough to let me believe I am in control of something – even if it is just for two weeks, before the brambles come back with a vengeance and bring all their maple friends. (I have seen this happen before. I know. And yet…)