Are You Kidding Me?!

Are You Kidding Me?!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Power of Growing and Gathering

Last year, I got out the shovel to dig up my lavender plants and throw them in the woods. They looked like giant dead spiders—thin, dry bare branches sticking out at all angles. Not a purple flower in sight. The summer before that, I only harvested a handful of stalks. These lavender plants were gone and I had to face it. But I couldn’t. I put away the shovel and watched them get buried under all the snow that fell on us this past winter (and spring).

My (pathetic) harvest
Why didn’t I get rid of them? Part of it, I’m sure, is because I love lavender. Maybe another part of me didn’t want to "kill" them. I wanted to be absolutely, positively certain they were already dead. I think another part might be my feelings about these plants. Weird, I know. And I’m just getting started.

I don’t garden. I understand that many people like gardening and find it relaxing. I don’t. I find it work. Hard work. I also have a notoriously brown thumb and cannot keep a house plant alive for more than a month.

A few years ago, I had healthy lavender plants producing fragrant purple flowers. The skinny stalks grew so tall, I thought they would break but they never did. They were strong. Teeny, tiny, purple flowers started opening, a shade deeper than the buds that hadn’t yet bloomed. And that smell…heavenly. Did I mention how much I love lavender?

I’ve always purchased dried lavender in shops but these were mine. I got to see them grow, water them, and harvest them. I enjoyed the process from start to finish. Reaching into the plants and picking a full stem of lavender, gathering them together, hanging bundles around the house to dry, filling a bowl with dried lavender.

When I pick fresh stems, my fingers are lavender-scented for hours. When I sit in the sun and gather stems together, tying them with string, I feel a connection to these things. (I said this was going to be weird.) When I hang bundles up, I appreciate the charming beauty of drying herbs. When I strip the stem of its dried flowers, I fill my special “lavender bowl” with fragrant buds and I completely zone out. The whole experience is so grounding, meditative, and rewarding.

A few days ago, I was playing in the backyard with my kids when I saw some purple peeking out from behind a whatever shrub (I have no idea what it is). I scurried back to my four little lavender plants and what to my wondering eyes should appear? Bright, beautiful flowers smiling at me. Don’t mock. It was a moment. I had a moment. I plopped on the ground in the middle of the plants and just kept picking stems until I couldn’t hold any more. I handed a bundle to my son and continued harvesting. It was like my own tiny miracle in the midst of the mess of a summer I’ve been having.

I have no real point here. Just sharing some joy. I hope you have some lavender bloom in your life soon.

One day's worth. More is blossoming out there...