April 6, 2020
We have lived in the same home for 29 years. Several years after we bought our house, I decided to grow a garden in the rock-walled backyard enclosure designed for just such a purpose by the home’s original owners. I tilled, raked, planted, weeded and harvested, usually by myself, for quite a few years before deciding that there was no point to it any longer during the early years of Parkinson’s diagnosis, confusing a lack of fiscal productivity for a waste of time.
That was a huge mistake. As we approach what may be the peak of this initial coronavirus outbreak, as with many of us living in America, I find myself hand-tilling a smaller version of the same old garden. Why the sudden interest in gardening around the country? It certainly enjoys the benefit of fresh produce if the world’s vast transportation network—primarily reliant on trucking—should falter. But I think we all realize on some level that it is much more than that.
Gardening, feeling the life-nurturing soil crumble between fingers, is a mindless distraction of the highest order. To care for a seedling, to cultivate a plant to full potential, is to pay homage to the marvel of life’s creation. It is a recognition of nature’s merging with man; a welcomed forced solitude of reverence for the earth misplaced for far too long.
As I walk around the same neighborhood and see preparations of fresh ground for planting, it seems to be the best possible way to honor the next several weeks and well beyond. We will all get through this, and when we reach the other side—whatever that may be—I like to think that we will carry forward with us the value in a simple turning of earth, be it as basic as a windowsill flower in a city apartment. It is long past time to till our gardens and be thankful.