Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gardening: who is it really helping?

So I am notorious for getting ideas in my head and diving in head first.  I tend to do this a lot in life.  First time I trained for Chicago Marathon I had never ran a competitive race of long distance (longest race was 200 meter in high school track) in my life.  I was in graduate school, was at the highest weight of my life (minus being pregnant), and didn't have the best eating patterns ( Stein night every Wed after class wasn't helping).  But I did it and it worked out o.k. for me.  Fast forward to 8 years later and I'm pretty much the same person who has tons of ideas bubbling in her head, but not always real logical before taking the leap into something.  I tell you all this because it is back story to my recent signing up to improve some gardens at Mason's school.  At the beginning of this school year I would walk my son by a butterfly garden at the school and couldn't believe the overgrown state of the garden.  A couple months into school and I just couldn't let the feeling go.  I didn't want to be one of those people who thinks something looks bad, but doesn't try to help make it better.  So about three weeks ago I started working on the garden.  I started by working on two small areas (first Friday I took Kate to daycare so I could figure out what kind of mess I'd signed up for).  Matt and the kids came the following day and Mason actually grabbed a rake and helped Matt take some tree limbs to the forest behind the school.  Kate, not into the gardening as much, but she really enjoyed playing on the playground.  The next week I did the same, but surprisingly another parent showed up on Saturday with her 2nd grade daughter in tow.  Mason and Kate had great fun playing with her while we worked on the garden.  This weekend was the same, except my mom and dad were visiting so they got involved too.  So there were 5 adults and three kids.  We weren't able to get all of the garden in tip top shape this year, but it definitely isn't overgrown anymore.  My mom's presence this weekend was helpful, but she also wanted to really work on details which when you have this big of a project sometime the "details" have to be left to next year. 

This all started the week after I ran Chicago.  Maybe this was my way of coping with the funk I've felt in the past following races/training.  I didn't have time to think about if I could have done more during training, or been sad that this marathon season was over.  The gardening gave me time, especially on Fridays, to be alone, be in peace with my hands in the dirt and for me manual labor keeps me sane.  Plus the day after gardening I had a soreness that comes with knowing that you have worked hard- similar to 20 mile runs.  Although the soreness was coming from different body parts I still felt like I had done something physical. 

The Saturday, especially the first one, when Matt and I were alone gardening I felt extremely happy.  Matt is not a big fan of gardening or yard work, but he got out there, put gloves on and dug in.  It was great to spend time together in that way.  The other part I loved about these gardening excursions on Saturdays were how the kids reacted.  Kate I think thought it was the coolest to be able to play with Mason at his school.  Mason really enjoys working/helping me with projects and after the first and second weekend of gardening this weekend he asked if we would be going gardening on Saturday- he asked this with a "hopeful" not "annoyed" tone.  Gardening over the last few weeks has been good for me physically, emotionally and for my family.  It has told me that diving in and following one of my "crazy" ideas isn't always that bad or problematic.  I'm getting older and need to start realizing that embracing all of me- even my "crazy" ideas is going to make me a happier person.  So I close with many before/after pictures of our work in the garden.  I told my mom this weekend, " mom do you feel like we are in the 'secret garden' ?"  I think I will have to read that book to the kids next. 

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