The past few weeks, we have been furiously gardening.
(And when I say we, I mean that I pick out the plants and then my patient husband digs holes and waters them and weeds them and waters them some more. #trueromance)
I cannot tell you how much these plants nourish my spirit: they’re so friendly! and pretty!!! and stalwart!!!!
We’re putting tons of sweat equity (not to mention actual green things) into the ground here, and logically it doesn’t make sense because we rent this house. So technically we are contributing to someone else’s investment, not our own. But we cheerfully keep digging and planting anyway, partly because we want to be the kind of people who leave a place better than we found it, and partly because it gives us SUCH joy and pleasure in the meantime.
Last weekend we got the scoop on this secret local greenhouse that we’d never even heard of before. It’s in the picturesque prairie town of Black Diamond, where we go all the time to frequent our favorite local restaurant, The Westwood. (You’ve seen our Tuesday workday-coffee photos on Instagram, right???) “Down the street, take a left at the second left,” the local told us confidentially. “Vale’s Greenhouse. People drive for hours to get to it. It’s like nowhere you’ve ever been before.”
Well, we are plant junkies, and so immediately off we went to this mysterious Hogwarts of a greenhouse, and we pulled up to a stone wall and walked into- well- paradise.
I can’t even do it justice. So here are some photos.
I basically swooned my way around the heaps of plants, moaning things like, “Ohhhh baby, look at this one, and did you see these silver leaves?!?!? and come smell this one-” and squealing unabashedly.
I wanted to take home ALL those plants. But I only took home a few (dozen) because I’m a grownup and all.
When we were checking out, we met the greenhouse owner, Katrina. I offered some witty and intelligent words of admiration, something along the lines of “Ohmygod it’s so- how do you- this is the very best thing that aaaah- I love you- I’m delirious-” and luckily I didn’t scare her off.
She explained that what makes her plants different is that she grows them all right on-site. You can get plants that look similar at big box stores like Home Depot, but they’re all grown in warmer climes and shipped up here right at the end of May, when it’s safe to plant them. (Because guys. It might still snow at the end of May. That’s a real thing here.)
“The problem with those plants,” she said, “is that they might look pretty, but they’re fragile. They’ve never felt frost, and they often can’t take our cold summer nights, let alone the odd June freeze, but they’re also not really ready for our super-dry hot climate during the day. That’s partly why everyone talks about how hard it is to garden here, because folks lose plants that were never really tough enough for our brutal conditions.”
She went on to explain that what she does with her plants is that she’s created her own patented form of cold frame thingy (not its technical term) and they get the tiny baby seedlings used to extreme conditions from the beginning. Many nights, the plants even freeze solid. (How is that possible? I have no idea.) It sounds harsh, but what that means is that by the time a plant has reached the gorgeous blossoming phase where you’d want to put it in your garden, not only is it lush and blooming but it’s TOUGH AS A MOTHER.
Scorching weeks of dry winds? No problem. Freak freezes in the middle of June? Handled. I’ll keep this in mind for the rest of my plants and veggies as they won’t have been grown to handle winter and cold weather, so it might be time to look into blackout tarps like these you can find on Pro-Tect Plastics, so I can protect my plants throughout the year!
And these sturdy plants made me think, dear reader, of you.
Of us, collectively.
It made me think of all the times that life has left you out in the dark, alone and feeling abandoned.
It made me think of all the times that you’ve been frozen so solid with grief or fear that you thought you might never thaw.
It made me think of all the times that you have felt so parched and dry and empty that you creaked and rustled.
You’ve had those times; I know you have.
And sometimes when you felt that way on the inside- devastated, ravaged, anguished- you had to keep carrying on with your badass self out in the world.
You showed up at that meeting when your heart was broken and you damn well led your team like an offing BOSS.
You showed up to do your writing/composing/painting/activism faithfully, even when it all felt too hard and pointless and impossible.
You showered love on your kids, even though inside you were profoundly, achingly, raggedly lonely.
That is because you are people of courage and integrity and you are also my FAVORITE.
You’ve been through bleak seasons, dearheart. And you know what those seasons did you for you?
They made you STRONG.
Like change-the-world strong. Like love-with-an-open-wild-heart strong. Like epic-fucking-badass-being-of-light strong.
Look into yourself. Can you feel it? Can you feel your own vital strength running your veins? Can you feel the sap of resilience rising up through your core? Can you feel all the budding possibility gathering inside you?
Hey look! You are an epic fucking badass!
So bloom wide open, dearheart. Let all your soft petals unfold; let your tenderness reach out and grace the world with their beauty.
But never forget that you are tougher than a prairie winter, stronger than heartbreak, true and tempered and proven.
You’re a wonder to behold.
P.S. And listen, if you’re still out in the cold right now, if you’re thinking, I can’t handle any more! I’m not this strong!, HANG IN THERE. You are in the thick of it right now, but the seasons will change- they always, always do. And you don’t have to go it alone when the pressure is most intense; even those fierce plants had a kindly plant guardian to watch over them. You can reach out for help. Find a friend, a mentor, or might I suggest, a coach. As one of my wonderful kickass private clients said, “Sometimes I just need someone in my life whose job it is to remind me on a regular basis to be KIND to myself,” and that is both wise and true. So especially if you’re in a situation where you have to keep showing up in the outer world as your shiniest professional self even though it’s raging midwinter in your inner world, you might consider letting me be your confidante and walk through this with you.