Making Room for Parsley and Sage

In many of my posts I’ve shared with you the things I’m taking out of my life — junk emails, extra clothes and shoes, commitments, etc. But simplicity isn’t just about taking stuff out of your life. I’m finding it’s also about very deliberately choosing what you put in.

Also, simplicity isn’t always about easy. In fact, I’m discovering that often simplicity is the more difficult path because it requires a change of course and an initial investment of time, money and energy. The simple lifestyle is often counter-culture.

This year I’ve decided to plant a garden for the first time in many years. It will be a small garden, but for some reason it is very important to me. After my experience in December, one of the things I knew immediately was that I wanted to grow my own food. I don’t know why, but I can tell you that this is something that I feel deeply. It’s kind of a strange thing to totally re-evaluate your life and come out of the process deciding to plant tomatoes — but that’s where I am.

Right now, growing anything on my own seems daunting. My dad visited a few weeks ago and he made me two garden boxes. Thank heavens he did because even the construction of a simple garden box is overwhelming to me because I don’t build things very often. This weekend, Matt and I went to the garden store and got some landscaping cloth for the bottom of the boxes and we purchased the soil to put in the boxes. Matt has already remarked that the cost of the project so far has already added up to several months’ worth of vegetables. And now we will buy seeds and plants. And we will spend time planting everything, and we will water and weed the garden.

So why do I want to go to all of this trouble? Why is this something I want to make room for in my life?

I want to plant a seed a watch it grow. I think there is magic in this. To take a tiny thing, put it in the earth, add light and water and then it turns into food — that is an incredible thing! In my religious tradition we talk a lot about seeds as a metaphor for faith. I think my faith will be strengthened by having a garden and watching these little seeds bear fruit — over and over again. I think it will give me a lot of things to think about over the summer, and that there will be some unexpected lessons.

I want the work. There is value in work; I want to add more physical work to my life. This will make me stronger. I believe that the fresh air and dirt in my fingers will be good for my body and soul.

I look forward to the healthy food. I imagine it will be really satisfying to make a salad from the garden this summer. I will know where my food came from, and how it got onto my plate. I’m excited about that.

I want to learn from my mistakes. I mentioned that I’m planning a small garden this year. I have no idea how much food it will produce. I am certain I will mess some things up. Someday I want a larger garden. The only way I will feel confident planting a large garden is to first plant a small garden and learn by doing. I say this a lot in my non-profit work, but I think it has application for gardens as well: Nail it, and then scale it!

I want to be more self-sufficient. In addition to growing and harvesting my own food, I want to learn how to preserve it. Did you know that grocery stores only carry two days of food at a time? Two. Days. Think about the various kinds of disasters that could occur, natural or otherwise . . . now think about your pantry plus the grocery stores with their two days of food. Time to pull up those YouTube canning videos.

Gardens are beautiful. Looking at a beautiful garden calms me. It makes me feel happy and joyful. Gardens are full of life and they make me feel full of life.

I’ll keep you posted on my garden as it progresses over the summer. I hope you think about planting a seed or two this year. And for those of you who are experienced gardeners — I’d love it if you would share any gardening wisdom you have for me in the comments below!