Rooting Up

Posted in food, gardening

Amazing how fast summer has come and gone – once again! Fall has quietly given way to winter, and the end of this growing season marks another important milestone in my life. This is the first time since I started gardening 5 years ago that I’ve been in the same garden throughout the entire growing season. While this is certainly a sad fact for both my gardens and my gardening career, it is an even sadder look into just how displaced of a life I have had the last few years. To finally be able to grow with my garden has been grounding in more ways than one. You see, I, like my garden, have been growing roots.

As any gardener knows, transplanting a plant again and again too often will only stunt the plant’s growth. But leave it in the ground in one place for a while, let it build some deep roots, and it will grow strong & resilient. Similarly, while I have benefited from the various “transplants” in my life, had my eyes opened to new perspectives, and been given new opportunities, the recent hopping around has meant that just as I started getting comfortable in one place, it was time to pack up and move again. Like a stressed plant, I became more sensitive to my surroundings, wilted, and scared.

So what does it mean now that I haven’t had to re-pack my suitcase for the last 7 months? I have to admit, it took some time, but thanks in great part to my garden, I’ve started growing roots again.

I am again and again so amazed by what a great teacher the garden is. Through my garden I learned that I cannot just garden the same way I might have before – that I must make observations, realize what makes this place different, and then adapt. Through my garden I learned to connect to the neighbours – to find common ground where there appeared to be none, create a safe space, and open up. I learned to harvest, can, and store – how to enjoy what you have now, but also keep those experiences with you for the tough times ahead.

Root cellars especially have become of great interest to me lately. Because if the idea of storing whole root vegetables away until the killing frosts have passed can work in nature, then why not also in human nature? As wonderful as the feeling of growing new roots is, I often worry about my old roots – what about all the other places and people in my life that I have called home? Does growing these new roots now mean that the old ones will just shrivel up and die? I hope that instead I can make a little “cellar” for my roots where they can wait safely until the time comes when they can be planted back into their soils to form new roots and flourish once again. Like seeing a close friend after years apart – though your relationship hasn’t had the chance to grow during all those years apart, the root of that friendship is strong, and once reunited grows as beautifully and effortlessly as ever.

I realize now that that’s what I’ve been doing all along, all these years – building up a root cellar. And while I can no longer hop from one place to another trying to make all my roots grow at once, I can still keep them safe and close to my home & heart.

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