Garden Series – Pursuing Joy

…with Dirty Fingernails and a Hopeful Heart

This blog post is about pursing joy despite the hard work, and it the first post of the Garden Series. What is the Garden Series? It is an exploration of the things I’m planting, and the lessons I pick while I work this small patch of earth in my backyard.

The last frost date of the season needs its own holiday. General safety for outdoor plants is solidified, and the planting can begin! As a bonus, learning lessons from the gardening season also begins, like pursuing joy despite the dirt.

A lot of “serious” gardeners plant tiny seeds in little plots of dirt inside, weeks before it’s beneficial to release them into the wild. However, I am an impatient gardener variety. Browsing near-to-blooming starters to bring home from the local plant nursery is my kind of gardening. There’s enough patience required to care and wait for the garden to fill out afterwards.

Side Note : I tend to kill tiny seedlings indoors from smothering. Too much water, not enough airflow and light. The whole gauntlet of tiny plant torture.

pursuing joy in the garden

Pursuing Joy is like Gardening

Sometimes you find joy like walking through a plant nursery and picking out expertly grown flowers. It’s just there for you to enjoy. The hardest part is picking what your budget allows. Sometimes barriers prevent you from keeping your joy like a midsummer hail storm surprised your garden, and now you need to clean up the shrapnel.

Sometimes pursuing joy requires work beyond the physical. The mental and emotional stresses cloud our eyes, and weigh on our shoulders, preventing us from pursuing joy. This is when joy requires hard work, the kind that leaves your hands dirty, sore, and dry, but full.

pursuing joy in the garden

Pivot towards Pursuing Joy

Boise, ID has been our new home for only three weeks, but it already feels like a full season here. After we moved into our new house, preparing the garden felt like a chore and a blessing all in one swoop. I knew what work was required to grow a garden. My saving grace was the already built raised beds — at least I wouldn’t be building another garden from the ground up. However, I dreaded another summer of visiting vegetables I didn’t particularly care about*. So why even plant a garden? Because it brings joy to my husband and kids. I just wanted in on some of that boundless joy this year.

*Last summer, I began to understand why the last few gardening seasons were a dread rather than a joy. But, that’s a story for another time.

So, this year during the planning phase, I scaled back the amount vegetables, and added more flowers. If a vegetable-only garden didn’t bring me joy, then I wasn’t going to grow a vegetable-only garden again. Growing and tending a flower garden has been a dream of mine for a while. This year I took a step towards that dream by choosing joy over the practicality of a vegetable-only garden.

pursuing joy in the garden

It ain’t always easy

Once that last frost date passed, my family and I went plant shopping. Over the next few days all the plant babies were nestled into their new home. The dry cracks in my hands filled with dirt that didn’t scrub out for a week. Pursuing joy through gardening required work. Also, that work lead me to doubt my abilities to keep these new plants alive. I haven’t done enough research about gardening in Boise. Will I remember to water them? What if I can’t protect them from squirrels? Will the birds scratch up all my seeds?

pursuing joy in the garden

Now, I can stand at my kitchen sink, wash the dishes, and watch the birds visit my garden. They hop and peck around, but they are gentle with the plants. I secretly hope they’ll start weeding for me. Regardless, the birds bring me joy by enjoying my garden — the work of my hands.

This is the big lesson my garden taught me about pursing joy — it ain’t always easy. Pursuing joy can be as carefree as wandering into your local yarn store to spy a new skein. But, it can also look like putting on your handmade sweater that took months (or maybe a year) to finish. Feeling good isn’t always the easy option. But everything that is joyful.. is worth it.

pursuing joy in the garden
Enjoying the Garden Series?

Then you might like these related posts…
..Poem about the end of summer
..Essay about exploring our favorite creek spot in Oklahoma

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