Even though we live in Minnesota and we’ve hit the top-five snowiest winters on record, there is this elusive, exotic promise of spring that I so look forward to! Maybe you do too?
I imagine the burst of colors, the fragrance of nature’s beauty! I hope for the possibility that this year my efforts will flourish, and I will have a beautiful outdoor space to enjoy!
I find myself dragging out the potting soil, visiting the local nurseries, imagining what the front porch or the back deck could look like all dressed up with flowers and bird feeders and colorful chair cushions – what an explosion of beauty I’ll create!
Now, reality is far from that sort of wishful thinking. In reality, many of my plants die over the summer from my lack of any real gardening skills. The wind whips plenty of dirt onto my deck and the squirrels scatter the seed, meant for the birds, all over the place! Sometimes, the raccoons visit and add to the mess. The reality is never that picture-perfect outdoor landscape I’d hoped for, but every year I try.
For some reason, I’m never daunted by the failures of the past. I’m determined to find a new, hardier version of petunias or better mulching mix or a new, organic fertilizing agent – something that will help me succeed this year!
Maybe it is because the growing season here is so very short (we’re warned, don’t put out your potted plants until Mother’s day!) and the winters are so long that we romanticize the thoughts of having a garden and being bathed in its rich beauty. Whatever it is, I’m one of those hopeless romantics who longs for that short season of the year when I can try my hand once again at gardening outdoors.
Einstein would remind us that, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result!” Yet, that’s exactly what I do each spring – I hope that something glorious will grow from my efforts.
So why bother? Why spend money at the nursery or invest in a new planter? Why dust off the brightly colored cushions and diligently tie them to the heavy iron chairs? What’s the point of doing all the fussing, sweeping, cleaning, planting, watering and hoping if every year my hopes are dashed?
I think the point is that it’s actually healthy to get your hands in the soil. Scientists have discovered that the mycobacterium found in soil can improve brain functions while boosting moods. By getting your hands dirty, you’re also making your brain happy! It is genuinely uplifting (of spirit & soul) to gently place the plants in their new containers and try to talk them into growing. It is an investment of energy in the possibility of continued happiness brought on by seeing the flowers bloom, the butterflies discover the blossoms and the birds serenade you for the season.
How do you invest in your happiness? There are probably plenty of things you can do to stimulate your brain for happiness – science tells us that generosity, gratitude and even awe can change our brain chemistry for the better. So, maybe just gazing at the sunset or walking in a local forest is your preferred method for inviting nature to engage with your nervous system. Whatever you choose, I trust you pursue it with abandonment – give it your whole heart!
I trust you’ll find something to brighten your days. Each of us needs to discover those reliable sources that will replenish and renew us, give us hope and fill us with inspiration. Now that the days are longer and the sun is trying its best to uncover the earth from its blanket of snow, perhaps a quick trip to the nursery will peak your curiosity and begin to engage your imagination in the promise of what might be!