(Christine Cantrell, PhD, May 13, 2015)
Gardening is my passion in my free time. It is my way of grounding myself, meditating and creating beauty in my world. Once the snow is gone, I can be found wandering around my yard, tending to flowers, bushes and trees. Dividing and transplanting perennials is an early spring chore. April usually brings dandelion digging and daffodils. May blooms in apple, cherry, pear and crab apple. The sunshine is strong after a dark winter and I revel in needing to rub sunblock on my arms, legs and face and neck. It’s wasted in my hands, as they are always in the dirt, digging.
There’s so many benefits to gardening. First, it is excellent exercise, particularly if you’re digging up new gardens out of the lawn, or digging up a bush or tree in early spring, to move it somewhere else where it might bloom a bit better. Dividing the perennials involves shoveling, carrying and bending over a lot. Dandelions build strong legs as I move from one yellow flower I don’t really want to become a globe of white seed parachutes! All of the clippings and trimmings from bushes and trees, weeds and dandelions go in bags for recycling by the City of Berkley.
I love to be outside and experience the gentle breezes or the major winds blowing clouds across the sky. The wind cannot be seen, but its effects can be. The trees bend, the petals fly off my weeping cherry tree in a swirl. In ancient languages the word wind also translates into spirit, or breath. In Greek it is pneuma and Hebrew it is ruach.
As the air circulates around the globe, the earth is breathing. As I breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, the trees are inhaling carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. The March winds fill my lungs and my spirit with energy of nature waking up from a long winter’s sleep. April’s sunshine warms my heart and fills me with hope. Soon, the grass will awaken and green, and the first flowers begin blooming.
In my yard, the witch hazel is the first flowering bush. Its spindly, lemon yellow petals uncurl as the days lengthen and warm, and as they open, a lovely citrusy scent fills my patio. Fresh and bright, it usually blooms in mid February. This year February was brutally cold and snowy, so mine waited till the end of March to delight my senses. Snow drops are the next bloom in my yard. Small, hardy little green shoots that produce one small white elongated orb of blossom. I’ve never tried to smell one, as they are so close to the ground, often where the snow has just retreated the day before.
The spring growth and renewal of nature serves as a repeating lesson in life. Winter may last a long time and be almost unbearably cold and desolate, but spring always comes. The drifts of snow we endured now transform into blossoms on branches, as W H Auden said, into “the cherry tree hung with snow.” My spirit is renewed and I start digging in the soil to do my part as a co-Creator, participating in the cycle of life.
Christine C. Cantrell has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and 30 years of counseling in the fields of pastoral ministry, grief and psychotherapy. She is a fully licensed as a psychologist in the State of Michigan. She also has a MA in Divinity (M.Div.), was an ordained pastor of 2 churches, and was a grief counselor with local hospices. She has practiced psychology in area clinics since 1993. Learn more about her psychotherapy services at http://www.royaloakclinicalpsychology.com/about_us.html.