Spending time in the garden boosts my mental health. Unlike a few years ago when I shunned the garden, now it is my favourite place to be on weekends, for no other activity engages me so completely while it revives my spirit. Exhausted after a rough week, some people head to the beach, some to the casino, others to the dance hall, church, the bar or the football pitch; for me it is different.
All I do is don my signature cap, coverall, and gloves, saunter to the back of my house into the garden and there, in the quiet of the evening, I am transformed into another person. Tiredness oozes away in this green space. Here I can taste the evening breeze off the hillside and smell the musty grass from yesterday’s mowing. Right then my wrinkles disappear, my shoulders relax, my lungs fill with oxygen and there is nothing I cannot do. I feel invincible and sometimes even immortal.
I weed, prune, rake leaves, fertilize, set new plants, redo a bed, and design a compost heap; everything becomes possible and easy. In my garden space the sky appears huge and embracing, and my mind learns how to be at peace. My body, lean and once strong, conserves energy as I turn from the difficult task, to the easy ones, and back again to the difficult. I feel as if I am engaged in the miracle of life with things happening all around me. In the echo of nature’s silence, I experience living things grow: plants inch higher, butterflies flitter, insects crawl on and under the ground with the worms, and birds defend their young.
Amidst this cycle of life my garden multitasks like a miniature universe, filling my heart with gratitude and making me want to give back. In fact, the garden is a giving place; having received from the universe the miracle of fruits and flowers, it is a joy to set plants for the neighbour, share produce, and smile as your elegant anthuriums decorate the Church’s sanctuary. On each bed, lettuce leaves neatly set like pages in a book, the gardener crafts his sentences with a salad of words. Visitors would leave my garden with their baskets full.