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In This Together: On learning in the great outdoors
Aug 30, 2013 | 895 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print


By LOUISE R. SHAW


My neighbor once told me that gardening teaches you all you need to know about life.

I nodded and smiled but should have asked for more details.

Because now, whenever I’m doing yard work – which really isn’t that often, but we can pretend – I wonder about what those lessons might be.

I think I’ve figured a few out:

• If you don’t get the weeds out of your garden, they will take over your flowers.

• If you’ve got lots of flowers in your garden, there won’t be room for weeds.

• If you don’t get to the roots of the weeds, they’ll come back bigger and stronger.

• Everything needs water and sunshine.

• Growing life brings happiness.

• Bugs are a nuisance.

• The better you tend to something, the better it does.

• What might sometimes seem the enemy - like bees - are sometimes necessary.

• What might seem the friend - like deer - eat tulips.

• What you plant is what grows.

• Pruning seems harsh but makes things better in the end.

• Men like to prune with power tools.

• Hard work pays off.

• If you can get a team to help with your hard work, do it.

• It’s good to stop and smell the roses.

So there’s a start of a list, some of which you might recognize others have observed before me (especially that bit about roses).

I’m not going to extrapolate.

It’s now your job to figure out what weeds and flowers and deer and pruning have to do with life.

I’m going to leave that to you because making sense of it all is what’s fun about it.

Maybe it’s not just gardening.

Maybe it’s just being outside in general that leads to thought-provoking insights and mind-stretching inspiration.

For some, it’s being surrounded by mountains. For others, it’s looking up at the stars. For me, it’s walking alongside breaking waves.

We too often spend our days in cars, on roads, in buildings, in front of screens.

But there’s something about walking in sunshine, feeling rain on your face, breathing in the aroma of a lilac bush, noticing the design in daisy petals, that feeds our souls.

And we don’t always have to be walking with our face to the wind to sense it and embrace it.

Sometimes we can have our fingers in the dirt and our face dripping sweat and still be inspired by life, by growth, by beauty, by nature.

So here’s the secret to figuring it all out: go outside. Sit in one place for the entire sunset and beyond, when the colors often get even more brilliant.

Or walk around a pond or to a waterfall or through a park.

Or go into your yard or work on your patio pots and dig weeds a while.

Because that’s the best lesson of all about gardening:

• A quiet, uncluttered mind is open to insights, answers.

• Working with your hands when surrounded by life, gives your mind time to wander, to ponder and maybe even to come up with some really profound answers for life.

Maybe we can all pretend it’s not work with such a reward at the end.

My neighbors hope I’m reading this.

lshaw@davisclipper.com

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