Sore muscles, dehydration headaches and dirty knees, too, of course. But, it’s the peace and satisfaction that keep me coming back.
There’s just something about the whole process that grounds me, brings me back to earth and gives me a sense of place.
Even when my to-do list is long, each little task accomplished is meaningful. I feel afterward as if I’ve done something — even if it’s just mulching at the base of a butterfly bush.
A co-worker teased me after I wrote about doing the happy dance when the peas were first up, but then shared how excited she became when blooming flowers brought cheerful color to her own verdant oasis.
I understood her joy.
It’s these small moments that make gardening less of a chore and more of a delight.
• Fireflies winking and twinkling all over the property — front and back.
• Soft, humus enriched soil falling through my fingers as I sprinkle it over newly planted seeds.
• Black raspberries ripening in full sets — rolling into a quart basket as quick as my thumb can nudge them in.
• Marigolds blooming away in vibrant yellows, oranges and burgundies — sometimes on the same plant.
• Grape clusters peeking out from behind broad leaves — swelling in the sun.
A longtime reader sent me a link last month to an article about the mental health benefits of gardening. Scientific studies are showing that the happiness we derive from digging in the dirt isn’t all in our heads.
Contact with a soil bacterium — mycobacterium vaccae — actually triggers the release of serotonin in our systems. This natural anti-depressant also enhances immunity, making us feel better mentally and physically.
Another study has shown that we get a jolt of dopamine when we harvest fruits and vegetables, especially berries. It’s a throwback to our hunter-gatherer days, when that flush of mild euphoria reenforced the positive action of finding food.
So, it’s no wonder when the chaos of 21st century life seems like more than I can handle, all I want to do is go “play in the garden.”
Best of all, I have a husband who joins me there — where it’s peaceful and satisfying.