Spreading manure. My brother and I laugh about this memory all the time. What kind of woman asks her grandchildren to spend the day spreading manure, actual manure, not just a fertilizer mix, around her prized rose bushes? My grandma Helen, that’s who! As a florist and rose show judge by trade, she had almost a laser-like focus on tending to her garden, and her roses were the royal family of her plant kingdom. As a result, she had no hesitations about putting us to work for tasks like this. It seemed like torture at the time. But now that I have some adult years under my belt, it’s pretty funny looking back.
Sometimes, being knee deep in manure is what brings new growth and blossoms in the next season of our lives. It’s ok to hate it while you are in it but it becomes more bearable if you keep the perspective that it won’t last forever. We have all had those periods where it felt like we couldn’t take a step without landing in a pile of smelly manure. It can be so consuming when you are in it. “Why is this happening to me?” “Why am I the only one knee-deep in this stuff?” “Is the rest of my life going to be like this?”
I am finally learning to weather these times with more grace by realizing that this is only one season of my life. I have to take extra time to nurture myself during these periods and I can’t expect to produce beautiful bouquets for a while. Like my rose bushes in their dormant season, not only is it just not the time to create showy flowers, it is actually not physically possible. So long as I’ve watered, fertilized and I continue to weed ruthlessly, sometimes there is nothing more you can do but wait patiently till the season changes.
This year, when it came time to fertilize my roses, I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to it. A little manure doesn’t bother me like it did when I was younger. As an adult, it feels like a luxury anytime I get to go outside and play in the dirt. I feel the most grounded when I am in nature.
I’ve also come to love the quietness of winter in my garden. All year long, I am preparing my garden for its big showcase in the spring and summer, when everything is exploding with color. I might not be able to bring home- grown bouquets to friends and family during the winter, but there is time to move at a slower pace before I’ll be bombarded with weeds to pull, aphids to chase away, and faded blooms to deadhead. I can simply tend to my short list of tasks and be thankful for the rains taking over my weekly watering duties, and for the good soil in my flower beds. Most importantly, I can indulge in taking the time to be still.