I have always liked gardening. One of my first memories is going to my mom and asking her if I need needed to buy my own tools if I wanted to go to farmers college. But here in Uganda, my love of gardening has come alive. It certainly helps to have year-round warm weather and fertile soil. But the act of digging, planting, weeding, creating, and nurturing the land has given me rest in times of chaos.
Anyone who knows me will say I'm a "doer". I need to be productive. Standard ways of relaxation (yoga, meditation/prayer, journaling, sunbathing) don't stimulate me enough-my mind wanders. I need to be slightly active in something to actually free my mind and process my thoughts. And gardening is the perfect medium. Another similar activity is fishing--you're busy baiting the hook, casting and reeling, but it really doesn't take away from personal reflection and processing.
A typical evening in the garden: It's 6:00PM. I get home from work and take a few minutes to play with Ogiko and change into old clothes. I'm emotionally tired from a hectic day. I could escape into a book, movie or food, but I sense the need to process my day. I go to the shed and pick up my hoe. I feel the cool grass under my bare feet as I walk across the yard. I begin digging the ground around the green pepper plants. The ground is soft because I dig it frequently. The soil is black. In the distance I hear a rooster crowing and children playing. The sun is gently setting. I plunge my hand into the loose soil, pick up a handful and squeeze it. It smells rich with nutrients. By now I'm sweating and my muscles are warm. All of the sudden I feel balanced and connected to the earth. I can begin to look back at my day with healthy perspective. Anxiety and stress has been washed away and replaced with a sense of gratitude.
This is a picture of what I pick out of my garden daily (besides the pineapple-this is our first one). In front are two varieties of jalepeno peppers, next to a sprig of basil. To the right are some cucumbers. In the blue bowl are several varieties of tomatoes. Behind the tomatoes are passion fruit, and a pineapple to the left. Between the bowls are a couple of green peppers.
Still to come: onions, peanuts, carrots, broccolli, cassava, eggplant, spinach, and lemon grass. Other fruits include: guava, bannana, mango, and avocado.