MOTHER EARTH NEWS’S Garden Essay Contest, titled “Why We Dig Gardening,” prompted many responses — here is one of our favorites!
Inexplicable joy ... This is the feeling I get when I garden. As a child growing up in the city, my parents afforded us the experience of having a small vegetable garden and even a few chickens and ducks. I dug the dirt and planted in the family garden but had little appreciation for the activity until my own garden healed me in a way I cannot truly describe.
I started this vegetable garden to grow some of my favorite vegetables. Then the need for ornamental flowers and shrubs began to call, and the garden chores began to swell. It was work and not very pleasurable at all.
Then, in the summer of 2004, my precious young nephew passed away after heart surgery. My family was devastated. I was lost. My 23-year-old nephew had been a chef and loved the fresh vegetables and herbs that I grew in the garden. It was something that we shared and enjoyed. After he died, I expanded the garden and included a new section in memory of him. When I work in the memorial garden now it is not a chore; it is my time to connect with loved ones that passed on to me a love of gardening and of family. It is my time to heal and nurture. It is bliss.