Last March, as the coronavirus started to sweep through our country, I sowed some seeds. Tomatoes and cucumbers and sunflowers. For the past decade, I’ve eagerly and excitedly counted down the days to the third month, as only then can I begin growing my vegetables plants. After weeks and weeks of dark and cold, sowing those first seeds is a celebration that Winter is over and Spring has arrived. A symbol of new life. Faith of the summer and crops to come. A reminder that life carries on. But last year -2020- those seeds of hope took on even greater importance.
Every day, last March, I awoke to increasingly scary news stories about the coronavirus pandemic. Case numbers steeply arose, people started losing their lives, and the supermarket shelves began emptying. Restrictions intensified, rumours abound, and eventually the country was locked down. Worry and anxiety and chirping birds started to consume me. I’d come downstairs each morning, after listening to radio four’s ‘Today’ program, after skim-reading the latest news articles, after replying to my friends’ and family’s increasingly worried Whatsapps… and my head would be a-jumble of fear and panic. Until I saw my seedlings. 🙂 There on the kitchen table, basking in the morning sunshine, my plants slowly came to life. Each morning (and afternoon, and evening 🙂 ), I’d stare at the brown compost in the pots, looking for the slightest sign of life beneath. When the soil eventually started to move, when hints of green could be spied, when leaves popped up searching for light… I was there celebrating. Each new seedling became a symbol of hope. Hope that we’ll still be here to harvest the crops. Hope that we could feed ourselves in a crazy world. Hope that some of my favourite yearly moments would still happen. Hope for better and happier times to come. Each little shoot calmed my nerves, bolstered me, filled me with optimism. Despite the pandemonium… nature always carries on.
As the months passed, and shielding confined me to just my home, my garden became increasingly important to me. My whole world. More lawn was dug up to make extra vegetable beds, more seeds were carefully sown, more plants were lovingly tended. Never before have I grown so many crops, potted on so frequently, weeded so often. Never before have I eaten so many homegrown vegetables in the colder months, made multiple sowings, tried so many new varieties. Never before have I seen shops run out of seeds and compost as lockdown inspired newbies to grow their own! And never before have I devoted so much time to gardening! Hours and hours and hours! It kept me fit, it kept me focused, it kept me happy. My piece of heaven within the mayhem. Gardening was my lifeline in 2020.
However when the third month rolled around this year, I was emotionally and mentally in a very different place to normal. Storm clouds had blown in, depression has darkened my world, and my enthusiasm had upped and left. Instead of spending January and February reading my books and researching varieties, I did nothing. Instead of buying seeds and compost and planning my patch, I did nothing. Instead of getting excited and counting down the days until I could sow the first seed, I did nothing. March came, and almost went, and still the greenhouse was bare. Finally near the end of the month, I forced myself to plant some seeds… but my usual joy was replaced with streaming tears. That was the moment I decided to seek help for my depression.
Happily, wonderfully, thankfully, over the past six weeks, the pills and sunshine and reunions have worked their magic, and the storm clouds have dispersed. And as my smile has returned, so has my gardening mojo. In a big way! 😀 I’m a few weeks behind where I normally am, but the greenhouse is now brimming with home-sowed plants basking in the sunshine. Squash and sunflowers and cucumbers and tomatoes and turnips and chard and spinach and lettuce and spring onions and courgettes and peas and beans and mint and chillies and beetroot and basil and radicchio and radishes and corn and cucamelon and carrots and potatoes and coriander and nasturtiums. Once again, every morning (and afternoon and evening 🙂 ), I sit in the greenhouse, full of amazement at these growing new lives. Each young shoot is a reminder that from the dark, something wonderful can emerge. Each flourishing seedling is faith in my future and theirs. Each burgeoning plant is a reminder that life carries on, nature finds a way, just keep going. For the first time in months, I am looking to the future with happiness and excitement- eagerly awaiting the first strawberry, home grown salads, and the vegetable plot brimming with crops. 🙂
Gardening pulled me through 2020, and it’s working its magic again! 🙂