During all of the uncertain, stress, and strain of the COVD-19 pandemic, it is important to do your part. Social distancing, avoiding gatherings, staying healthy at home… It’s all been a part of the new normal. I’d like to encourage you, to take a line from Lukas Nelson’s song, “Turn off the News and build a garden.” Those who know me know I was a journalist, and I have a profound respect for those working to inform us. With that, we need some balance, and this would be a great time to play in the dirt, plant some seeds, and reap a harvest.
As a child, my family gardened. We did this mostly out of necessity, because my dad was a coal miner and he would lose his job during the booms and busts of the coal industry. I dreaded it. Matter of fact, I hated it.
Weeding, picking beans, digging potatoes, it was a chore that never ended.
I didn’t appreciate it until some four decades later.
My wife, Tammy, loves to garden. She has a green thumb. She is a Master Gardener, and I am, sadly, a two-time Master Gardener dropout. Over the years, I’ve supported Tammy’s gardening efforts from afar – sometimes, real far. Prior to coming to SOAR, I worked at Big Sandy Community and Technical College, where my wife continues to work as a Division Chair for Social and Behavioral Science and Coordinator of the Human Services Program.
Sounds important, huh? Tammy takes pride in her work, but she is most proud of a small patch of raised beds tucked away on a Nature Trail on the college’s Prestonsburg campus.
When I worked at Big Sandy, my office was near the Nature Trail, but I hardly ever volunteered. My excuses were like a clever… I was buried in work, I had homework (I milked that one while in graduate school), and I just didn’t have the time.
As I transitioned to SOAR and finished my graduate degree, I had been using the excuse “we’ll do that when I graduate” and little did I know my wife has making a list – and checking it twice.
I would often get up early on Saturday mornings during the summer to find Tammy in the garden. She would tell me “You can find God in the garden.”
I laughed until a moment last summer when I started working with Tammy in the garden. I would weed, plow, plant, and pick, and that became therapeutic. For the first time in my professional career, I started to achieve that work/life balance I always heard about – and even smirked at sometimes when I heard it.
So, this weekend, I joined Tammy and Dr. Tom Vierhellier at the college’s Community Garden, practicing social distancing, to begin to prepare our more than 20 beds for planting season. This work is important because all the food we grow goes to the Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry, a ministry of St. James Episcopal Church.
As we all adjust to the new normal of social distancing and other guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, I would encourage you to go outside, dig up some dirt, and throw some seeds in the ground.
In a time where technology is perhaps the most recognized tool to combat our new normal, I would disagree. Put the phone down, go outside, and out your hands in the dirt.
I’m not the perfect gardener. I get frustrated as the reality of my two-time Master Gardener dropout smacks me in the face when something doesn’t go right, but in the end, I find so much peace planting and nurturing a seed to an eventual harvest.