Monday. Tax day. My day starts as I emerge from twisted sheets and an impossibly long night of insomnia. I’m tired, cranky and my day is jam-packed with must-do-yesterdays and two must-have conversations I would rather not have. As I drag the brush through my hair, I note that tax-day is statistically one of those days that you’re most likely to get in a car crash or die of a heart attack. My blood pressure noticeably inches up. A confluence of irritations is mounting to make this colossally “one of those days.”
I take my coffee to the garden. The air is brisk and there’s not a cloud in the sky. There is no fog creeping over Sutro tower. The sparkling sun illuminates the shiny new leaves on my Forest Pansy. I turn on the hose to water my lemon tree and herbs. Little Meyer lemon buds are exploding from the tree. The blue jay that frequents my garden hops from tree to tree. He’s trilling and cooing and not doing any of that obnoxious blue jay screaming. I pause to admire him, so pretty and blue sitting on top of my gigantic red abutilon, and then he’s joined by a charm of hummingbirds. I pause to look that one up. A group of hummingbirds can either be a charm or a troubling. I guess it depends on if they’re flitting to and fro or dive-bombing you. Today they’re a charm, and I feel lucky all of a sudden.
When did that abutilon get so big? It has bloomed constantly – 365 days – never a down moment, and it looks happier than ever. I look down and sigh – so do the weeds. Why don’t I spend more time in the garden? I refresh my coffee and hunker down to pull a couple of weeds in the minutes before I must leave to start this day. Pulling weeds is therapeutic for me. I bestow one of my troubles for each irritating weed I pull. They give up easily and I take a deep breath. Then it comes to me: This is why we create gardens. The garden enables us to cultivate and convene with nature right outside our doors – to be in nature.
My little plot is the size of a postage-stamp compared to other gardens I’ve had the opportunity to design and build, but its function as an oasis and refuge in the heart of the city is beyond measure. The connection to earth and the ever-changing life of the garden syncs me up with real space in time, not the stuff I insist on imposing on it. In less than twenty minutes I’ve gone from stressed out and cranky to far more relaxed. I’ve gone from ticking off every irritating thing I have to do today to counting the reasons I love going to work every day. Once I yank out the bad weeds of my day, I remember all of the good things I get to focus on, and all the fun people I get to spend time with today. I feel thankful, and I don my gratitude like armor. My brief moments in the garden reminded me to literally stop and smell the roses. Drive safe out there – it might get a little bumpy, but a little bird told me it’s going to be a great day.