Garden Notes: Green Bean Therapy

“You are a slow-stringer,” he says, standing beside the table and rapidly working his way through several green beans.

We are on the back deck and I am sitting down, letting the rhythm of stringing this mass of beans do its slow work on me. He’s trying to help, he’s sweet that way; but his tense, choppy movements are wrecking my peace. To him, it’s a job that needs doing. But me? I can feel my soul unwind with each curled string I pull from these plump pods.

“It relaxes me,” I tell him. “Go on back inside, I’ll finish these. I don’t mind.”

He looks at me like he doesn’t believe me but finishes what’s in his hand and leaves me anyway. Then there’s nothing but me and the sky and the sound of snapping beans. I always think of my paternal grandmother when I’m stringing beans, though I never knew her well. She died when I was four or five, this farmer’s wife and mother of nine. I feel her close when I’m tending garden-y things.

A robin is calling to a friend nearby and I sit still to listen. I read an article in the local paper on Friday about “Gardening therapy.” One of the experts interviewed said brain scans show that when we are engaged with nature the areas of the brain associated with loving and kindness are active, as are the areas associated with creativity. This doesn’t surprise me, and I don’t need a brain scan to tell me that gardening helps relieve stress.

But these beans.

They are giving me a little stress.

These beans aren’t from my garden. My pole beans have yet to give up a crop and the bush beans are only just rebudding from the last pick. A new friend gifted these beans to me. She is the mother of a young lady whom my son is spending a lot of time with lately.

These beans remind me that we are entering another new season.

I’ve been watching this tender thing budding and it’s all so bittersweet. Sharing him this way is new and sometimes it feels sooo … hard. But seeing others appreciate what a special young man he is becoming makes my heart melt.

Besides, I get new friends out of it too.

I think this season will bring more than the green beans.

Suddenly, the snap of a bean is the sound of so much promise and the steady unzipping of the beanstrings is opening my heart; creating a wide expanse—a waiting place. I feel the places in my brain associated with loving and kindness stretch out over that expanse.

A sleeping garden, waiting to be stirred. And just a bit of green bean therapy.


  1. kendalprivette says

    love. this. we only started gardening three years ago, and the first time i smelled the beans cooking their ten minutes before canning, some lost, latent memory was stirred, but only slightly. and i just felt love. and summer. and peace. headed out to pick a “mess” now….

  2. pastordt says

    Oh, what a sweet twist at the end there, Laura. I’m still waiting on my oldest two grandsons to find someone sweet who thinks they’re wonderful. (I’m assuming your elder boy, but maybe not??)


  1. […] Workshop, I was amazed at how much my garden had grown in just four days. I spent Monday afternoon stringing and canning beans, letting the slow snap of the pods soothe my mind and welcome me back into the routine of home. My […]

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