Planting the Healing Garden: The Quiet Joys of Early Spring

And now it is April. I was walking in a friend’s garden this afternoon and everywhere we turned, things were budding and leafing out. He kept saying “It’s all happening!” And it truly is. Actually, it has been for a little while now, but it a quiet sort of way.

I never used to like March. Growing up in northeastern Connecticut, March always felt much more like the last, grey, dreary, incredibly long month of winter rather than the first month of spring. When I lived in Berkeley during graduate school, March was lovely, of course. The incessant winter rains finally ceased, and the Ceanothus and rosemary bloomed, and the world felt right again. Then I moved to Santa Fe, NM, where March meant fierce winds that blew the ever-present dust into every nook and cranny of everything. And then I moved to the Hudson Valley. And after five years of thinking that I hated March (and very early April), I finally this year have come to realize that it’s actually one of my favorite times.

And here is why: March (or very early spring, really, which is March where I live) is about discovery. Before spring really takes off and everything bursts forth with verdant new growth and loud, colorful flowers like some tacky prom fashion show, we see spring’s emergence more slowly and subtly. Each new discovery is cause for celebration, a light at the end of winter’s tunnel. One day I see yellow on the fat Forsythia buds. The next day, they began to open, and I also notice the first new soft green growth of lady’s mantle pushing up through the soil amidst last fall’s leaves. The next day, I see the downy buds of the service berries, and every day they get bigger and bigger and soon they will open into delicate white flowers which will last only a week or two before the branches’ bright leaves begin to emerge.

To me, this time of year feels like falling in love. There is so much to discover, and it’s all wonderful. As in, I walk around filled with wonder and delight, like my “it’s all happening!” friend.

So if you can appreciate these small joys, before spring kicks into overdrive, please share them with others. Take a walk with your children and point out the little treasures that are emerging each day. Instill in them your love of nature so that they will become stewards for the next generation. Walk in the garden, or even just gaze out the window, with your mother or grandmother or the old man who lives next door and see what you both can see. Older eyes don’t always catch the small things, but they will appreciate the new life if it’s pointed out to them. I promise you, your world, and theirs, will feel all the richer and more meaningful for it. And that’s what a “healing garden” is all about.