My very first apartment in New York had a backyard (it also had 2 floors and 2 bathrooms and was cheap–for Manhattan. Go ahead and be jealous; I’ll wait).
One year, my boyfriend and I decided we were going to really fix up the backyard. We shared it with our super, and though our half was huge, it was mostly taken up by weeds. Still, we saw the potential. “We can plant tomatoes, and cucumbers, and peppers,” my boyfriend said.
“Let’s also put in a wading pool so we can sit in it and drink beer,” I said.
So we had big plans. We spent the first warm weekend of the year pulling out weeds (and some small bushes, I’m pretty sure, though the bf promised those were also weeds). We were ridiculously sore the next day but the hard work would be worth it when we brought this backyard to life. We never touched it again.
All of this is to say: I’m not a big gardener. But my mother was breaking her back (possibly literally, I worried) to plant these flowers in front of her house, so while I knew nothing about planting, I offered to help.
First, I went through the dirt to get rid of what seemed to be multiplying roots stuck in it, being careful to return any worms to where I found them so they could help the soil. It was sort of similar to weeding, so although it was useful, I wouldn’t necessarily call it gardening.
Next, I poured one cup of plant food liquid into the soil surrounding each flower. Now this was gardening. It may not sound like much, but think about it (I had plenty of time to do this as I crouched down over each individual flower and patiently delivered the food). I was helping to support life. I was encouraging something to grow.
I had never done that before.
I know they’re just plants, but keeping a plant alive is proof that I am capable of supporting a life other than my own. Even more than that, it means things, any things–relationships, sandwiches, card towers–don’t have to fall apart at my touch. So it was definitely worth the ache in my legs today.