Garden Notes: Nurture


When I returned from the College Summit 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 tomatoes are struggling this year, due to all the rain, but I still have been able to start my mid-summer diet—tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and some in-between). This morning, I diced one of my salad varieties into petite bites and stirred the red bits into a pan-scrambled egg. Is there a better way to start the day?

Our first night at the College Summit Workshop was spent in training. All the writing coaches gathered in one room and our coordinator took us through the same free-writing exercises we would be asking our students to do over the next three days. After writing for ten minutes, we took turns reading our scribblings to one another, while the others took notes; just as our students would do. This simple activity allowed us to share our stories, to learn about the hearts and passions of each person there. I learned—by the way a voice would change as it held certain words—about the greatest loves these strangers carried. By the end of the night it felt like we knew each other better than some life-long friends.

I learned some things about myself through words shared and the lens of writing. Some things, I guess, we never leave behind. But, perhaps, the broken ways, the hard memories, the things we try to prune away, perhaps these are the very things that become the soil bed for rich growth.

Sometimes I think I love gardening because it proves to me that I can care for something other than myself—that I do have the ability to nurture and cultivate. All those years taking care of myself when no one else would—they have a way of turning the gaze inward. Survival of the fittest, right?

When my boys were born, the desire to nourish and teach and give was so strong the pain of it would overtake me at times. Now that they are older, they try to shake free of the bumpers I’ve put in place for their lives. They want to make their own way. At least in part.

But the garden never shrugs off my hands. My eggplants are beautiful and the summer squash are late but they are coming. I will have late cucumbers too, my planting was distracted by a boy’s graduation this year. Every morning I visit the garden. In the cool of the evening I tend to her needs.

And she will give back in countless ways.


  1. says

    The tomatoes in my garden are huge (German Pinks run big) – it looks like a radio-active garden! LOL I like your diet:) It’s time for my summer gazpacho – God has such good things for us. I’ve been invited back to teach -I’m turning the idea over:) The garden never turns away our hands – and we need, sometimes, something that doesn’t. It lessens the sting and heals our hearts starting at our fingertips, working its way inward! Beautiful, refreshing, nurturing Laura!

    • says

      I’ve never grown German Pinks but you’ve made me want to :). I know you must be a wonderful teacher–any class would be blessed to have you! The garden is a good distraction as we move through the seasons with our boys. I know you understand this very well, M.

  2. says

    I love the way you have personified your Garden, given her a purpose and a need. I love the way you tend, and that pain you feel to care for something other than yourself? I think that is a beautiful gift, even if it is sometimes resisted.

    You love well, Laura.

  3. says

    Many years I have started with a great deal of enthusiasm and energy, and then with one thing and another, my efforts slack off and the garden either goes nuts and produces gobs of things despite my lack of attention or it shrivels to nothing and dies.

    That’s why I hate using gardening analogies, when they relate to things that should, ideally, continue living. 🙂 It’s way more fun to read about gardening analogies from someone who does it well! I would LOVE to be eating that many tomatoes. Yum. I read somewhere advice from an centenarian – her secret to long life. Eat a tomato every day, she said.

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