The word Garden, itself, brings solace. It speaks known pleasure from fullness, sensuous dollops of color, flitting birds, busy butterflies & bees, movement in a breeze, perhaps a welcoming pathway or water sound, earth, grounding, thirsty land or moist soil, blossoms and buds, orderly borders and random bursts that beckon, flowers big and small and for many, the fruits of food. High prairie, alpine, plains to rains, lush or lean, a garden soothes.
I opened with the thought of a Garden because it felt so much more lovely and positive than what else dominates our psyche right now: Pandemic’s mysterious, unknown, world-turned-upside-down, who has it who doesn’t, division, die or live, power over us—Covid.
“Go to Your Room,” said Mom Nature to us all. “And don’t come out until you think about what you’ve done!” Staying Away has made us think. And whoa, it is not fun to realize what large scale/small scale not so nice things we humans have been accepting as normal life. Many, even still, refuse to sit in the corner and see it.
We have all been a little too full of ourselves, with our stress and our desires, to notice simple ease.
Grow. Love. Nurture. Hope. Evolve. Change. Nourish. Cherish. Die. Start Over. Bloom. Don’t bloom. Bugs. Fertilize. Pollinate. Eat. Inspire. Be authentic. Be pretty. Be yourself. Flop over. Grow straight. Grow crooked. Dead spots. Age spots. Sprout in unexpected places. Work together with the worms. Spurts happen. So does nice and slow. Mysteries. Disappointment. Thrill. Life returning or succumbing to the freeze. Waiting. Wanting. Wishing. The perfect plan goes wonky. And then the wonky works.
These are things I see happening in my garden. But not in my society.
I can go a step further and draw the parallel between gardening and sewing. My sewing tribe knows We create. We imagine. We nourish. We use our hands to help something bloom and something in us then blooms. Furthermore, what we hold in our hands is also from the earth. Fibers and fashion have long been part of our earth (and society’s) history. Linen, silk, cotton, rayon, wool, and yes, even polyester and nylon are part of our earth’s garden. No wonder those of us who savor the joy of grounding sensibilities treasure textiles. Of the earth, worked from the soil, created by hands, transformed into protection and clothing, they are literally a human tapestry.
On both parallels, how could I help but think of my farmer ancestors, prairie grandmothers and urban gardener mother……..and women of all the ages toiling and enjoying the peaceful contemplation of the next turned soil and plant, or stitched textile. Is one of them speaking to me through my genetics, my heritage, my spiritual composition… probably. I am in conversation with them every time I dig, pat, water, plant and snip….thread a needle, stitch and shape.
As a young fabric selling store owner, I chose denial when so many told me gardening was their reason not to sew during the summer. I put my fingers like X’s in front of my face, saying no-no-no I don’t want to hear it, please sew because I need you and sewing is good therapy too! As a business owner with zero free time, enjoying a pretty garden was a value but a few notches below sewing as my focus. Purely business, I saw that It took time away from my customers, though secretly I wished for their same rewards. Before I saw gardening as my competition. Years later, I, too, need them both for self expression and sanity.
In mid-life post D’Leas owner work….and starved for creative expression, moving dirt with anticipation of flowers in an ongoing garden plan yielded me great enjoyment, not unlike arranging a group of beautiful floral prints on a shelf in years past. I became intrigued when a lovely past customer & friend (Donna Stack, I hope you are out there reading this) spoke words she could not have known would resonate so deeply in me. I was working at The Shop at the Gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens at the time. After her garden walk, Donna said …”Sewing and buying fabric is a lot like gardening. It’s all about color and texture and seeing something grow into something beautiful.” I would add balance and design execution to that. No less expensive for sure (!) yet equally self affirming as another means of fulfilling one’s vision.
Recently, nipping and snipping from my little gardener stool, I had a moment of ease and thought “I think I’m getting the hang of this…” ..maybe similar to when I crossed over, stitching out another successful armscye, turn of cloth lapel, a lined patch pocket or perfect top stitching.
Now in retirement, compounded by The Mother Mom’s Pandemic, I am grateful to have my outdoor rooms in addition to my regular rooms to Go To and get some wisdom from the situation. Death is not only in our face daily on the news, it is quite certainly a closer new reality to wrestle with at this age. My garden is teaching me to keep growing anyway.
Every one of us of all ages, is now confronted with our personal life values, our economic and productivity beliefs, and life itself on this planet as humans. From the 1918 Pandemic to this one in 2020, the basics have changed little compared to the technology distraction. We still need to make decisions based on our humanity. Who and what is Essential. How we treat each other. I think Mother Nature just wants us to see her. She is asking us to get back in balance.
Not everyone is lucky enough to know how to sew or have a garden but I recommend each as a source of possible solution to the grief, change and evolution in which we humans now find ourselves. Find a garden, or make one. Try some sort of fiber or cloth to grow something. Change is here. How to BE the Change is our next question mark. Guess I will look to a garden for clues…..and needed solace.
What are you learning while “in your room?”
This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!…treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. RUMI
And if we come into a 2nd wave of Covid spread, may we find further inspiration of change in nature.
Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Warm days and cool nights prevail and while the frenzy of summer’s growth fades, it is replaced by a very dignified shift in texture and color. Plants dominate the discussion harking back to thousands of years’ worth of tradition around harvests and preparation for the coming winter. Brian Vogt , CEO, Denver Botanic Gardens
Your creativity is in full bloom in this beautiful essay, Dianne. It’s a gift and a luxury to find color, texture and design both indoors at your sewing table as well as outside in your garden. You grow a textile project equally as naturally as you grow the plantings in your garden and you write about both experiences with equal passion. Mom Nature drew out your creativity by sending you to your room.
Lovely essay, Dianne ~ and since I have seen your pretty and colorful gardens (front and back), I can certainly say your aesthetic results there are indeed creative and beautiful, very much like how you sew.
Yes, my garden (and our pool) has made the Covid pandemic less punishing. There is always weeding to do ,and editing the overgrowth, and pruning and deadheading, and watering and embellishing the soil, and watching the dozens of bee species and birds that visit daily. Not to forget grabbing a few vegetables for dinner. It’s work and it’s art!
And gardening — creating an outdoor sanctuary (and even food) — is similar to sewing a patchwork quilt design. There is color, pattern, texture, and repetition to consider and a few surprises in the combinations, and sometimes a few mistakes that have to be taken out!
I will say we have more immediate control over the outcome with sewing textiles 😄than we do with nature and plant species. Oh the surprises are constantly occurring: Species seed themselves and move around; plants burst, bloom and fade; others outcompete and take over; and some just fizzle and die.
I sorely lack patience and want to create a certain vision NOW, Growing a garden has taught me that WON’T happen. I cannot make a garden instantly — it takes years, not weeks, to achieve a certain goal. Annuals take months or one full season to offer their best. Perennials take three years to become established.
Learning patience, and waiting out this pandemic is teaching me (and many of us) a few things. We are forced to be at home more and cannot rush into the world for escape. There is no other place to escape to now — we have to stay put, stay home and shelter in place. Thus, making our shelter more comfortable and life-affirming —whether we sew, garden, paint, cook, journal, read, practice yoga or write a memoir — is going to help our wellbeing a little bit every day.
We can work to savor and hold this new reality. We can look within and explore the landscape of our Souls and our ideas, dreams, depressions, failures, and many experiences. We can rail against the circumstances (and that’s perfectly and rightly understandable!) and then, when we’re ready, we can roll up our sleeves and make a pie, or weed the garden, or cut some fabric for a quilt, paint an old piece of furniture or write a poem. It’s all good.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful words.
Beautifully written , Diane.
I am , at last, finding the time to take my own love of color and texture outside to my yard. …,my flower garden spaces. It is fun to know that others have been up to the same ART!
You were always fabric and sewing and helping other people do well in this area. Now you are saying that gardening has become an important part of your life too, sometimes using the same skills you have already developed, But mostly it seems that you have used much of your time to read and think and learn about yourself and the world and where you want to see yourself in it. That is the most important thing you have done, accomplished.
This is a lovely thoughtful and inspiring message for all of us who thrive in the seasons of gardening and the extended beauty of nature that come with every season…and also in the beauty and feel that natural fabrics convey to the eye of the beholder.
Beautiful thoughts, Dianne. Thank you for comparing gardening with sewing. Yes, both are the creative process. I’m very appreciative that this virus arrived with spring. The virus imposed restrictions such as no more tennis, concerts, plays, classes, church gatherings, book group meetings, or family gatherings. My time was occupied with my garden, walking for exercise, and years of accumulated projects.
After two months of seclusion, I desperately needed some activities and social engagements. Yes, we Zoom when we can. And after a few months, tennis games began again. Then very small gatherings with friends were added. Now I am contemplating fall and winter. I will remember to treat each guest with respect and value this time and remember these words of RUMI:
This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. RUMI
Thanks, Carol! It’s nice to compare and grow through this difficult time. Let’s laugh more and watch for excellent guidance!
belated response to this wonderful post. Yes, the garden is a source of solace and joy. thank you for the way you have expressed this.