Published in Sonoma Medicine, Spring 2003
My husband and I purchased our first home together three years ago.
It had almost a half acre lot—essentially all lawn, gravel, lava rock, and juniper with black plastic underneath. We have transformed it into an organic, edible, habitat landscape that is quite a contrast to the big lawns and minimally interesting yards around us, and also a good way to meet our neighbors. It’s alive with worms, spiders, insects, birds, bees, and butterflies (and we’re working on bats!)
How does gardening balance the “stresses of medical life”? You work up a good sweat and get down and dirty. You engage all your senses with the smells, textures, sights, and sounds of brushing up against herbaceous foliage, digging in the moistearth, fruit trees in full bloom, the progression of flowers as the seasons progress, hummingbirds dive-bombing for nectar, frenetic screechy twittering of finches vying for birdseed,
buzzing yellow and black striped bumblebees fuzzy with pollen making their rounds, and almost best off all, the sublime experience of biting into a juicy, perfectly ripe strawberry, a crisp crunchy green bean, or a tomato that squirts juice and seeds all down your chin.
You don’t have to get in a car and drive anywhere, which lessens our dependence on foreign oil. You get to express your creativity and in so doing make your little piece of the world a more peaceful, beautiful place. It is profoundly grounding and healing for me (of course, got to watch out for those repetitive strain injuries!).