It has been one year since Hazel, my beloved cat, died at seventeen years of age. Looking back, I think some of my most contented moments were spent in the garden with Hazel. She used to trail after me, picking a warm spot for a nap while I worked nearby. I carried on many a brilliant conversation with her while she dozed off in the sunshine.
Hazel liked to nap right beside my computer (see pic!) I took her presence as a given. Now that she is no longer here, our house feels emptier. Lytton, our big, brown dog looked for Hazel and moped for months after her death.
I wish now that I had spent more time playing and sitting quietly with her in my lap. It doesn’t take much to find ourselves bogged down by the minutae of daily life. Taking time to nurture our relationships and to think about what we truly need can fall by the wayside.
Sometimes filling our lives allows us to avoid confronting issues we have no desire to face. So long as we move from one thing to the next , it is deceptively easy to avoid thinking about what matters to us. When people stop us along the road, we have a multitude of reasons why we cannot take time for reflection or for activities that nourish our souls …
So perhaps gardening is how I am reacquainted with those sometimes neglected parts of me and that is why it plays such a vital role in my life. In the garden, it is as if time slows. I breathe more slowly and I listen with a different ear. My eye is drawn to the intricate changing patterns of the shadows falling across the garden. I can distinguish between the myriad scents of flowers in bloom and I can watch as ants make their determined march across a row of stones.
For those of us whose adult lives have been touched by chronic disease, gardening, too, is a balm for the spirits when our bodies fail to cooperate. Even if ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis) is making life miserable, there is always something that can be done in the garden be it deadheading flowers or reading about a new plant. And I try to remember to :
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things (Robert Brault).