Lavender is the universe’s anti-anxiety and the scent settles me almost immediately.

I got up early this morning and after I made coffee, I put on a bra, t-shirt and jogging pants and went outside. My false indigo and bearded jupiter are overwhelming all the plants in their vicinity and need to be trimmed before the bees wake up and begin their work of sucking nectar from the flowers. 

The garden is peaceful in the morning. Most of the backyard is still in shade before 7 a.m. and the colors are even more vivid in the shade. The hydrangeas are almost completely open and the sun reflects off the white full-headed blooms. Vine weed is circling the thorny wood of my roses. In the midst of it all, I rubbed my fingers across the lavender before sniffing.

Lavender is the universe’s anti-anxiety and the scent settles me almost immediately. This summer I intend to make lavender oil.

My thoughts are not consciously on the Roe v Wade decision or the school shooting in Uvalde or a government that is paralyzed, unable to act for the people. But I know those thoughts are in the background of my mind. I need my daisies, penstemon, delphinium, roses and hydrangeas to ground me, to keep me in touch with the earth, my foundation.

Otherwise my soul flies untethered into the universe.

The unthinkable keeps happening over and over again. Like the aging process, it continues to be a surprise. We think we are prepared but we aren’t really.

I believe I have made peace with my floppy belly and I’m surprised when my skinny jeans don’t make me look thin or I think I’m accustomed to the wrinkles on my neck and then come face to face with them in a photograph. Those are the days when I realize there remains a part of me that wonders when I’ll return to my old body.

Today the supreme court makes decisions that a few months ago felt unfathomable regarding gun safety and the female body.

Sometimes I need to look away for a bit because the news blinds and renders me frozen, paralyzed. I watch how my precious time shifts through my fingertips like sand on the beach.

So this morning, I set my coffee on the edge of the deck, go find the shears and begin snipping.

The false indigo was flattened in the center during a late snowstorm back in April but she kept growing. This plant blooms from the middle, as does the jupiter’s beard. I’ve been waiting for the center growth before trimming the splayed edges. Learning how to care for each plant is almost as satisfying as the actual task for me.

When I was a little girl my paternal grandmother let me help her plant pansies. I’m 63 and can still remember how proud I was to be allowed to work alongside her. My maternal grandmother had what others called a green thumb, however, and when I’m in the garden it is her presence I feel. Sometimes I think the crazy way I easily learn the names of so many plants came from her. The ability to identify a flower and understand a shrub must be inherited from her.

Years ago, after my ex husband and I separated, I found solace in my hands in the dirt as well. There was a shaded spot on the side of my former east coast home and I planted ground cover one evening. Pachysandra. The minute my hands touched dirt, my heart was soothed and my spirit calmed.

After my ex moved out, I let go of the landscaper to save money. I was surprised to find that mowing the lawn satisfied something in me. I would put in my headphones, turn up my playlist, start the engine and begin creating rows in the sweet green grass. The instant gratification of the task and the smell of a freshly mowed lawn gave me a sense of accomplishment that I struggled to find in the space of my divorce.

This morning, as I deadheaded my roses, petals fell across my deck and I was stunned with how beautiful the tableau was. I grabbed my camera. The way they fluttered to the gray boards alongside the shears was art for me. Even the mess of the garden is lovely. I couldn’t turn away and took picture after picture.

My garden tells stories every single day. She invites those in her presence to sit, sip some coffee and just observe. 

Shortly after I cleaned up and prepared to go inside for a glass of water, a hummingbird came for a visit. She went from bloom to bloom on the pink delphinium and did not appear alarmed with her close proximity to me. I had the opportunity to just be still.

Our landscaper is impressed with how our garden has developed in one short year. I suspect these plants do so well because they know they are cared for. I water them, trim them when they need it, keep the weeds at a minimum and pay attention to how they look. They will let me know when they need something.

The world is not peaceful today, and I know it never has been. I’ve just been able to tune it all out. Once upon a time there was no social media and the only way I was aware of current events was when I bought a paper, turned on the television or heard from a friend that something had happened. I had to actively search for news.

It was easier for me to remain in the present moment. To keep my thoughts on what was happening right in front of me.

Now I have to actively search for the peace I need. I have to turn off my phone and eliminate the internal pull to see what is happening in the world.

I have to find a way to care for my own garden.