When my husband and I moved our two very young daughters from New Brunswick to Halifax four years ago, we bought a house that had lacked love.
I’m sure there was a time when the previous family had laughed and chased each other in the big yard, when children had squealed with glee on the swing set, when the owners had sat on the front porch in August, listening to the evening song. If those days existed, they were gone long before we moved in. We bought a house with broken windows, holes in the walls and a yard full of weeds.
After some fresh coats of paint, a few good scrubbings and the presence of positive energy, the house quickly became home. We love it here, and are blessed with children running, bumblebees investigating our gardens and evenings enjoying the breeze on our front porch. Why, even the raccoons are happy we’re here to provide them with a big compost bin of fine dining!
One part of our yard was once a loved garden, but it has been overgrown with weeds. One plant inparticular. This particular garden was in trouble four years ago when we bought the house. There were moments when I tried pulling, digging, spraying this plant. My dad calls it a “You’ll Be Sorry” (because once it takes over your garden, you’ll be sorry you ever planted it). Eventually, after a few half-hearted attempts, I gave up on it. I gave up on the entire side yard. I felt that it was a lost cause and I just kind of hoped that it would… take care of itself. Maybe a mysterious blight would kill that one particular plant! Maybe it would just… go away… somehow.
Today, as I worked in my other gardens, I pulled some weeds that had sprouted around my peonies. Small green leaves. I crouched closer to see half a dozen of them popped up around my plants that I so lovingly care for. It was the You’ll Be Sorry! It has somehow jumped beds. At first I was angry (yes, at the plant), and then I was worried about what will happen to my garden (will it take over again?). Finally, I looked to my left, towards the other flower bed. I picked up my shears and I lifted up my rake and I went to town on that You’ll Be Sorry. I pulled and dug and put it all into the wheelbarrow. I ripped and grabbed and hauled. By the end of it, I was dripping with sweat and covered in dirt. I filled the wheelbarrow three times, and I haven’t even come close to being finished.
I felt a lot better afterwards. I’m still not sure what the best way to get rid of this nagging plant is, but at least I did something. Previously, I had been avoiding looking at the left side of my yard. Previously, I had known that there was an issue I was going to have to deal with, but, as I so often do, I pretended that it didn’t exist. I wished it would just take care of itself.
Like all problems, ignoring it only made the situation worse. Once I accepted that some course of action was going to be required to change the state of my flowerbed, I felt better. I hadn’t realized how much that garden bed was bothering me until I stood and faced it instead of hiding.
Of course, this is relevant to so much more than gardening, isn’t it?
We all have weeds hanging around. Maybe it’s negative thoughts about the self, a distorted body image, or a reliance on your nightcap. Maybe it’s wounds from past relationships or something else entirely. Sometimes facing our demons head on is terrifying. In my own journey, when I looked my anxiety in the eye, it opened up another layer of pain that I had been holding onto. Past wounds, feelings, grudges that no longer served me were taking up space in my mind and body and I hadn’t even known they were there.
It is a messy and painful and terrifying task to uncover these things about ourselves and to address them.
We are unable to truly move forward until we do.
I’ve learned, and work on continually reminding myself, that pushing through the place of discomfort will lead us to a lighter, happier life.
What are you hanging onto? What weeds are crowding out your beautiful summer garden?