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  • Writer's pictureJane Rubin

My Garden, My Very Happy Place

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

My tomato jungle

Twenty years ago, as I prepared for a big surgery, the nurse said to me, “Try to think of a very happy place - somewhere you feel totally at home and think about being there.” At the time, my mind raced through my memory's photo library and finally selected an image of me floating on a raft as a kid at our old lake house. I could feel the gentle rocking of the raft as the breeze created small waves in the water and heard the lapping of those waves against the side of the raft. I felt the summer sun dry my skin. It worked - I settled down and let the OR team calmly do their jobs.

At the time, the request came without forewarning and although I quickly and fortunately found a good image, I have had far more time to think about happy places since then. Now, I have a small set of them. Some are very restful - like those moments before sleep when the bed feels so comfortable and your body slips off. Some are more active, like my garden.

Today, after a few days getting caught up with bills and other boring chores, I excitedly arrived back at our lake home. I am pretty much living here this summer - sometimes alone, and sometimes with my husband and grandchildren, many of whom are staying for a week at a time. It is where I planted my vegetable garden. The garden is not terribly large, about 4x15, but large enough to keep the family full of our favorite fresh summer vegetables. There is a view of the lake and on most days, a nice warm breeze. It is very quiet on weekdays when the weekenders have gone home. While I weed, pick and thin down dead stems, I can hear the bees happily pollinating the flowers. It is such a lovely feeling to be a part of nature.

I have a few gardeners in the family and we have a texting group where we share and examine pictures of plant fungus, insects and the like. I may have mentioned before, that my son named it, “Here we Hoe Again.” Now that we are well into summer, we are showing off our early harvests. I am the least compulsive of the gardeners and while they proudly display the even rows of basil bushes, tomato plants and trellises of peas, beans and cucumbers, my garden is by far the messiest - looking more like a jungle with the melding tomato plants on top and through each other and cucumber tendrils mixed into the pole beans. While this sense of disorder troubles the other family gardeners, I find it both amusing and true to my character. It looks exactly like my desk top - at home and back at my work desk. It is also a metaphor for the complexity of life, relationships and so forth. My son tells me that the jungle will reduce the vegetable output, and yet, I find it calming. So much so, that it is my newest happy place.

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