Roots: The Unsung Hero
I know it’s considered cool to wake up early these days, but I can’t deny my love for sleep. The first part of Christmas vacation has been dedicated to getting as much sleep and doing as little as possible. I woke up just after eight o’clock in the morning the Tuesday after Christmas. Feet met floor at 8:15am. That’s a record so far—with the exception being Christmas morning for obvious, exciting and nonnegotiable reasons.
Crusty cookie platters and crumpled wrapping paper still linger, intentionally ignored while I attempt to recover from this past year—or, at least the week leading up to Christmas. The whole year will undoubtedly take a bit longer to recover from.
Restoring my body and mind can be a bit of a battle. I have no interest in cleaning, but I know it must be done eventually. I wait. I rationalize that eating a few cookies is a form of clearing away some clutter. Furthermore, I’m doing my 2021 self a favor by eliminating them as a future option.
That’s when the perfect metaphor seizes hold of me. Gardening!
Gardens grow so many life lessons.
During my inner battle of Recovery vs Productivity I have argued (with myself, of course:) that allowing myself the luxury of doing nothing for a while will eventually lead to the old clockwork clicking in and causing me to actually want to do some cleaning.
But—trying to force myself to clean without allowing my body and mind to simply sit dormant for a bit will only lead to an unhappy, very unproductive and prolonged mess. I insist that if I allow some quiet* to settle in long enough, any resulting effort—fueled by the genuine motivation I am confident will eventually bubble to the surface—will be much more productive.
These thoughts leave me to ponder the planting of a tree—a fruit tree, in particular.
People have a tendency to want to plant the biggest tree they can afford (myself included) wanting to fill up the space fast and get fruit sooner, in the case of a fruit tree. However, orchard owners and gardeners in the know assure us that a small, young tree—planted with care—will surpass the size and long-term health of an initially larger tree in just a few years.
Gardens are always about the long game. We should look at our lives through the same lens.
When we plant a tree—particularly a fruit tree that needs to put out a lot of energy later on in order to produce fruit—we are better off planting a small, young tree.
After you plant your tree (aka: whip) depending on the type, you usually prune it heavily which leads to the “stick” resemblance. No branches. No leaves. Definitely no apples. Why?
There are two reasons:
I have planted several fruit trees in the past: peach, apple and pear and have had to endure the befuddled looks of friends and family as they glance at the glorified sticks in the ground, then to me, then back to the sticks.
“Ok” they chuckle, “looks like you stuck sticks in the dirt.” They don’t share my excited anticipation.
They cannot see what I have faith will appear—eventually.
Truth be told, I had to hide my own doubting eyes upon introducing those first apple “trees” I planted.
I had bought and read a book. Ordered said “trees.” Followed the book’s instructions, no matter how wide my eyes grew in disbelief. I had to trust people with experience beyond my own.
I had to have faith and—as they say—the waiting is the hardest part.
It was a long wait.
The gift of growing older is that you have gathered some of your own experiences to guide you—hopefully. You can feel more confident that what others may not understand now will bear fruit later.
So, not only does this garden lesson tell me that as I sit quietly I am putting out new roots and strengthening what already exists below the surface, which is instrumental to any future efforts, but it also tells me that a stronger root system can benefit from a healthy pruning—a thinning out.
When it comes to the end-of-year cleanout, I need to give each room a healthy prune and clear away what is lifeless and broken. Then, I need to be more intentional with anything new. If something is blocking out sunlight, growing in the wrong direction or the angle is too narrow—cut it out, straighten it out or stretch to open the angle. If not, it may be difficult to support fruit production in the future.
With fruit trees as my guide—I’ll look to the new year knowing that healthy fruit can’t be produced with a poor root system or untended branches. What’s below the surface needs to be tended to even if it means friends and family might look at you with questioning eyes—not fulling understanding or, even worse, thinking you're doing nothin'.
Lying dormant, getting enough oxygen and making room for sunlight are necessities.
Have faith. Keep a good book by your side to guide the way.
And, above all—remember your roots below the surface.
They matter more than anything.
Tend to them.
*I use the word “quiet” loosely knowing I still have four kids, one husband and a cat under the one roof I am attempting to sit, sleep or stand quietly under.
New Year’s Resolution: To write a blog entry under 500 words and more of them, more often. I think I'll try to think of it more like a scrap book of ideas, thoughts, things I like, etc. We shall see . . .
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