Like a Dickens novel – “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” 2020 seemed to start out like any other new year. I do recall it was more fashionable to have a motivational word for the new year as opposed to a soon to be broken resolution. I had chosen “present,” as in: be in the present, not the past or future.
Then that first week of March happened. I say “happened” just like an earthquake or a tsunami “happens.” Monday you could feel the dark clouds forming and we started wearing rubber gloves at work. Tuesday there was a line wrapped around the supermarket. By Friday we were all in lockdown and a single roll of toilet paper sold on eBay for $100.
But wait, the garden tour is less than 60 days away – that little voice told me. I flew to the nursery (without telling my husband) to purchase some lovely things to plant over the next couple of weeks (I happened to be very fond of white begonias and rabbit foot ferns at the time) because this was just temporary, right? Right?!
Winter and Spring had blessed us with lots of rain and my garden was in her glory. I threw myself into her – my constant refuge. Since I was working less hours I would find myself putting some time in the dirt before work. This was a luxury I’d never experienced before. Little garden chores got done before becoming urgent (think trimming the wisteria). Garden projects were the main event of every weekend, because after all, there was no where to go, no where to be.
I didn’t get the pleasure of sharing my garden in the tour but I DID get the pleasure of sharing it with my neighbourhood as I noticed my entire community coming alive. Whole families were taking long daily walks or bike rides down the middle of the street. This “sheltering in place” was more like a parade of togetherness. Neighbors I had never met before were now eating mulberries from my tree every morning. There was more community bounty, much more!
Baskets, boxes, and buckets with “help yourself” signs appeared offering oranges, lemons, limes, avocados, kumquats, pomegranates, and zucchini. A neighbor and I teamed up to make sure we didn’t miss out on any offerings from our own private farmers market, and to point out the painted rocks appearing here and there.
When I ventured out to nurseries or the big depot I noticed carts full of flowers and vegetable plants. To my dismay and delight I could not find pumpkin seeds (plant mini pan pans in July) to save my life. Was humanity actually turning to gardening during this global pandemic? The “victory garden” was now back in style. The great outdoors was looking and feeling great again. It appears I had chosen my word for the year wisely. I was more “present” than ever in the garden; dirt smeared on face and knees, finding peace in mind and soul, nurturing the plants that were in actuality nurturing me. Yes indeed, it was the worst or times, it was the best of times.
Contributed by Jennifer McInteer
MLHMGT Board member