The Backyard Farmer

April 1st, 2013 § Comments Off on The Backyard Farmer § permalink

Even though I live in a suburb of a very large city in America, I think I’m a farmer girl at heart. I wouldn’t have believed I had it in me a few years ago but the more time I’ve spent in nature, the more I’ve realized how much I love growing things.

Six years ago, I lost my brother unexpectedly. That same year both grandparents passed away as well. Three years later my mom died at the age of 63, also unexpected. The loss of these people in my life had a profound impact on the way I viewed the world. I started to GET how fragile life really is. Here one day, gone the next. Gone forever. Done. Finished. Over. Never coming back. The loss of my brother and mom was so final. At any moment, death could claim my children. My husband. ME. And while I’d done all the things to keep myself and my family healthy, I realized I didn’t have all THAT much control over it.

I started sitting outside in my  backyard a lot rather than rushing around every minute of the day. Our house backs up along a large drainage ditch that we call the bayou. All manner of wildlife live there. I would watch the birds dip and swirl and play in the sky. I would gaze at leaves on the tree, rustled by the gentlest of breezes. I would see a flower in the process of dying only to notice a new one springing forth just next to it.

crane 2

Slowing down and sitting in nature taught me about change. It taught me about gratitude and love. It taught me to be in the moment.

The more I sat, the more I realized how everything, in every moment is changing. All living things die eventually. The seed becomes a bud, a flower. a dried up flower falling off the stem and then mulch for the soil. Nowhere in nature did I see fear about this never ending change. I never saw the tree fighting to keep it’s leaves.  I never saw birds beating themselves up for not being more active or too noisy or  not flying high enough. I saw tranquility in nature and lots of dying and changing and shifting and renewing. I saw connection everywhere.

Of course, this changed me. I slowly started finding gratitude in this moment. Meaning, in the NOW. I saw that to hang on to things or situations in an ever changing world was to suffer. To spend time in suffering is to give up this moment where gratitude and peace can be found NOW, if only I will look for it.

purple-cauliflowerThus began my love affair with gardening. One day, I realized I AM part of nature. I’m not separate from it. So, I got up and started working alongside the birds, bugs and soil. I started planting things.  Plants that would attract bees and butterflies. Plants that would provide food for my family. The more I connected with nature the more I noticed nature working for me. While doing the work that needed to be done in the garden, I wasn’t feeling that old rush and get it done and over with feeling. I was feeling the surrender, acceptance and connection of all of life.

The yard that once embodied a full landscape of mostly grass has become a yard that is mostly edible.


I’m no longer frustrated by the death that takes place there.  I have learned that even in death, the plants become my mulch, compost and food for the living.  I’ve planted apple trees, satsumas, blackberries.  I’ve planted seasonal veggies, which right now includes onions,potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, peppers, carrots and a lot more. Six raised beds and a 20 x 10 foot area of rows are homes to most of the veggies we eat and share with neighbors.

Those seeds of sorrow planted by the deaths in my family became the compost for my soul.  I miss my brother and mom, don’t get me wrong, but their deaths brought to me a sorrow so deep that I was forced to sink into it, to sit in nature and observe. Just like in nature, that sorrow shifted and became a gift and a renewing of my own perspectives.  And…it molded me into a backyard farmer.