Gardening Is All the Rage
Releasing fury in the flora
My dad is an attorney, but he defies all the stereotypes for lawyers. He is a kind, giving person. He would drop everything to pick up one of his four kids at school when we were sick. He would stop for someone pulled over on the berm of the highway to see if he could help. He works pro bono for friends and family who need help with their taxes or estates. He is a good listener. I learned strong ethics from him.
Yet, growing up, my dad would have these brief moments of fury over the littlest things. He’d stub his toe and absolutely lose it. Put any technology in front of him and he blacks out in anger. He'd swear never to return to McDonald's when they'd inevitably forget one of the six fries in our drive-thru order. Everyone cleared the room when any Cleveland sports team was on TV (which all had a personal vendetta against him and chose to lose games just to make him miserable).
As a young adult, I felt these dad rages surfacing. Spirited cursing really is not necessary when I can’t find my keys. Now, with a 5-year-old testing my boundaries and asking “why” one hundred times a day, I find the dad rage occurs more frequently. Then, pile on launching a new business and I'm at the end of my rope much sooner than I'd like to be in a day.
I knew it was time for change when I was driving with my little one and the car in front was stalled at the left turn signal. From the backseat I hear, “C’mon! Move it, buddy!” (My dad’s favorite driver-based insult is “goomba.”) Oh no...it’s rubbing off already. The constant stress was also starting to make me imagine awful things like snapping someone in half.
Do you know where you can kill things without landing inside a jail cell? The garden. I discovered that weeding is the most cathartic activity. I get such relief from seeing a large pile of dead, limp greens unsuccessful in taking over my beautiful flora. It’s like a game, too. You have to grasp the base of the weed in just the right spot with just the right strength and finesse to pull out all the roots along with the lanky stems. When I feel the fury arising, I simply step outside and yank as many invaders as possible until it subsides.
Another therapeutic gardening activity is training climbing vines. Morning glories, cucumbers, pole beans, honeysuckle. I could spend hours unwinding and re-winding these sticky stalks, guiding them up a post or over an archway or through each other. It’s like untying a nasty rope knot or mending a holey shirt—two quiet mindless tasks that I love. Focused busy hands halt the perpetual talking monkeys in my brain for a brief moment.
The garden also fuels my creative upcycling hobby and reduces my eco-anxiety. I frequently embark on dumpster diving escapades because I love the joy of finding something with potential and crafting a new purpose for it. Many of my alley finds experience new life in my garden.
Clay drainage pipes (which we lovingly refer to as our poop pipes) became tiered pots for honeysuckle. A tall A-frame easel is now a trellis for my zucchino rampicante squash. Two papasan chair bases make a functional and fun blueberry bush cage. Three wooden feet of an armchair plus one hand rail equals a morning glory stanchion.
Just today, a neighbor kid was hanging out with me in the yard. She likes to ask me to identify each plant, which is so fun to teach others, too. She said, “You really like to garden.” I took a deep breath of fresh air as I snapped off one of the ripe zucchinis, handed it to her to take home and said, “Yep, it’s my happy place.”