Turning a Black Thumb Green

Memoirs of a Downward Facing Dog

If there is anything to be marveled at in Portland as Spring unfurls her shoots, buds and blossoms, it is the magnitude of flora and fauna that lines every craftsman rancher home, sidewalk, porch (or basically any viable, grow-able surface).  Portland is a gardener’s paradise.  And as the cherry blossoms explode into puffballs of pink and white cotton candy, the rhododendrons snap open in a firework display of color, and the tulips and the daffodils are already on their way out even as my east coast counterparts are still buried in feet of snow, I can’t help but wonder about all of the weeding I’ve been doing in these last few years.

Every gardener knows that the quality of your garden depends on the quality of your beds.  Gardeners prepare months and even years to enrich their soil; filling their compost bins with buckets of kitchen nastiness, giddy with the prospect of nutrient-rich dirt and this years’ crop of über-behemoth cukes.  If there is one thing a green-thumb is attuned to, it is the tenderness of their plants:  the mulching to protect from the cold, the exact right amount of south-facing light, the perfect mixture of sand, soil and shit, and less we not forget about the weeds.  All of that plucking and pulling so their garden has the space to breathe, grow and thrive.

So you see, I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of weeding over the last few years. Spending countless hours on a yoga mat is like building an internal trowel that has helped me root out the habits of self-deprecating thought, notice the repetitive patterns in my relationships and begin the process of replacing all that is unhealthy with all that is colorful and vibrant and nourishing.  I’ve tried to till my soil so that one day I might have a garden (aka—a life, in case you haven’t caught onto the metaphor by now) that is rich and abundant.  Sowing the seeds of love.

Or so I thought.

The truth is, love gives me anxiety.  In the familiarity of solidarity, there’s a lot of stuff that you can comfortably suppress in the routine of your habits, preferences and modes of thought.  Like seeds that lie dormant until only a raging forest fire sets them free.  As soon as the L-bomb gets dropped into the mix, however, and I can’t figure out whether it’s Game-On or Game-Over.

Game-On, because suddenly I feel like I’m doing battle with the creepers I thought I had previously eradicated with years of breath, yoga, introspection and a heavy dose of Spiritual Round-Up.  Unexpectedly, I feel like I’m attacking Maleficent’s briar patch of thorns with a Weed-Whacker.

And Game-Over because all of that anxiety is almost enough to have me waving the white flag of surrender and sending me running and screaming in the exact, opposite direction.

But I know where that leads and it’s a long road back to loneliness, eating dinners solo, (standing up and straight out of the fridge) and too much wine.

Clearly, what I failed to realize is that a gardener’s work is never done.  The weeds will continue to clamber for space and attention; choking your tender shoots and stealing your precious light.  It’s my job to keep plucking with steadfast diligence and dedication. To allow the dirt to cake underneath my fingernails and grow calloused from the efforts of my endeavours; tilling the soil to prepare for all that is fresh and new.  This time I want flowers.  This time I’m hoping for a sustainable harvest.

And so I say to you, Mister Ned Stark, you have it all wrong:  Spring is coming.


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