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Back to the Garden

And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes, and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning
We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion-year-old carbon
And we got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
— Joni Mitchell, Woodstock

At first I thought it was simply the snow melting while I was away. The place looks different, I thought. Some of the usual winter cleanup to do, fallen leaves and an abundance of fallen branches litter the lawn and garden. Some wood rot on the pergola that must finally be addressed this season. Some fallen trees that ought to be cut up for firewood before mud season arrives in earnest. Yes, this must be what’s different about the place, I thought again. Spring cleanup and such.

We know when we’ve been away too long from the garden. There are things to be done. Things that bring us back to the earth. Things that ground us. Seasons work on us in profound ways. It’s not just the place that’s changed, but me. I’m not the person I was when winter began—are you? We’ve all change in ways big and small. What are we to do when we understand this about ourselves but to lean in to our best possible outcome in this next season?

It occurred to me that I didn’t even know what stage the moon was in late last night. There was a time when I knew where every planet was in relation to where I was standing. The universe marches on whether we pay attention to it or not. Sometimes, in our frenzied and productive lives, we forget to be a part of things. Sometimes we forget who we are. What our place in the universe is. But life is for learning, and a new season is upon us.

Gardens and sweat equity, pets and poetry, walks in the woods and wonder at the stars: each offer an opportunity to find our stride once again. As Whitman would prod, this powerful play goes on, and we may just yet contribute a verse. Has everything changed? Always. But while we go on, we might play a part.

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