When you live in New England, spring is anticipated with bated breath. Well, what a spring it has been. Coronavirus came along and at the least, ruined many plans, and at its worst, left dizzying numbers of sick and precious lost souls and a trail of economic destruction.
No one is immune from escaping the impact this global pandemic has on our physical and mental well-being.
What do we do to get ourselves to a healthier state of body, mind, and spirit? Where do we go for our inspirations and hopes?
Gardening has always been an outlet for many – myself included. Personally, however, back 2 months ago, the prospect of gardening felt like work that might not have any meaning. What was the point? Where and when were we purchasing plants or seeds? Was that an essential product? Would gardening centers be able to provide the products we had come to take for granted? Grocery shopping was causing enough stress and now would I have to think about masking and lining up to buy plants?
I had resigned myself to not having the backyard botanical oasis of blooms, birds, and butterflies. I still have a backyard and I knew I could still sit in that yard with or without a garden. Green grass and trees would be enough this year.
When I least expected it, along came an inspiration. It awakened me to the value of participating in the activity I look forward to from the day I pack it all in with the approach of late fall till that first warm day in spring when I can dig my hands into dirt.
Rummaging through the garden shed for the outdoor table and chairs and umbrella, my husband started to bring out our garden ornamentals. After almost 7 months of being in quarantine themselves, it is always like a welcoming party for old friends; Memories soaked into each one of them. And there sat the Queen of all statues…the Inukshuk I purchased in Canada many years ago.
You may be familiar with the Inukshuk. It is built with stones in the shape of a person. The Inuit in the north used the Inukshuk as directional markers or navigational aids. It signifies safety, hope, and friendship that ‘transcends borders to reach people all over the world.’ It demonstrates the Canadian spirit of friendship and community. The message felt loud and clear. “This way forward.”
This backyard exists in the past and a lack of motivation could not halt its existence in the present or the future. This space has evolved and grown as we have aged in the house. It was always what it needed to be throughout the past thirty plus years, serving many purposes. The history of the garden is recorded in photos from all the years and it would continue into the future by moving forward.
COVID isolation and social distancing has elevated the backyard garden to the status of a slice of heaven; gratitude for having a Zen space and recognizing that it is not a gift everyone has the pleasure of enjoying.
Once the tease of spring let go its grip and the sun warmed the soil, one would be hard pressed to not salivate in anticipation of a garden bursting again with color. Gardening serves to boost mood, much like exercise does. Covid has denied us much. Now it feels like the earth is owed this respect of toiling in the ground and awakening life and exalting in nature. Not even Covid can control Mother Nature moving forward.
Everyone experiences this time in history according to many factors in their lives. We all have days of anxiety, hope, sadness, positivity, negativity, energy, fatigue, lack of motivation, focus, attention deficit, worry, weakness, and strength. Finding your inspiration to move forward might come from stepping into nature. It may be what calms your soul when you find the stillness nature offers. Right now, we are in a forced slowdown of our lives but moving within that pace might just be what the doctor orders.
I am letting the path my Inukshuk guided me on to serve as my inspiration to find the pleasures amongst the chaos and move forward; which is why on that first warm and sunny day in May, I found myself standing in a line social distancing and masked to enter a garden center.
At the checkout, the sales clerk shared her approval of our choices, “You have some great colors for your garden.” In that moment, a little joy was shared with the hope of a garden coming alive again.
I grabbed gloves, seeds, and a new trowel and dug into earth. Lucky lucky me.
As an addendum;
A week after planting begonias and fertilizing and watering I hovered over their growth. In less than two minutes, a neighbor’s dog got loose from their yard and played tag in my garden, ripping to shred several of those plants. There was a heavy sigh and acceptance on my part, although much screaming and swearing inside my head.
I threw up my hands in total resignation when I then realized the many neighborhood rabbits had chewed most of my Black Eyed Susans down to sticks.
This is all part of Mother Nature and a time in life to forget the little things and embrace all the beauty our earth offers us. Nothing should stop us from finding our inspirations and moving forward.
Our Information and Referral Services department is available to assist our consumers, all professionals, and our community partner agencies during this Coronavirus crisis. Our dedicated staff is working remotely but nothing changes in the ways they can help.
To reach our Information and Referral Services Department in Danvers please call 978-750-4540; email firstname.lastname@example.org or make a web referral via our website at nselder.org/contact-us/referral-form/.
To reach our Information and Referral Services Department in Lawrence please call 978-683-7747 or email email@example.com.
Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne’s background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. “I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you’ll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to Elder Services’ audience.”