• One Minnesota Writer

Editing and Gardening: Both Aim for the Heart of Things

After a morning of reading other people’s poems, all I want to do is walk away from the computer. Do something wordless. It’s very difficult to do my own writing when the words of others rattle around in my head.

The perfect antidote to editing overload? Gardening. To put my hands into dirt, yank weeds, deadhead spent flowers, actually smell real roses – this is just the thing. Rabbits have nibbled the newly-planted lettuce and broccoli, but I suppose they have to eat. Rather than stress about it, I put a small fence around the raised vegetable garden. The fence posts are easily inserted into the compost/garden dirt. I wander to the front yard where goatsbeard is now in full bloom and towers dramatically over dark red astilbe. I let my eyes drift around the rest of that garden, one of my favorites that also holds bleeding hearts, violas, euonymus, and naturally-sculpted rocks from my brother-in-law David. There, in the middle, is a small bird bath that was one of the last anniversary presents my parents ever gave my husband and me. 

I don’t admire for too long. There is more to do. Bird feeders are empty, so I bring out the sunflower seeds. The container gardens are a bit dry. I find my favorite watering can, a magnificent copper piece that was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter and my husband several years ago. Some of the containers were presents, too, on other Mother’s Days and birthdays. One container has a relief of the Green Man in its front and reminds me of past trips to England. 

Everywhere I go in my garden, there is something that reminds me of people close to me, of summer, of warmth and light and growth. No wonder this is where I go for a realignment of my own senses, for a break from computer screens and word processing programs and HTML codes. This is a place in my life where editing — in the form of planting, weeding, pruning, dividing, amending — has focused on the very essence of what I want from my garden. This is the lesson I take back to my other work at the end of the day: keep amending the soil and pulling out the invasive stuff that crowds out the beautiful drama of that which grabs your heart.


If you’re interested in gardening as a way of growing food and helping others, check out Urban Farming, whose mission, per their website, is, “to create an abundance of food for people in need by planting gardens on unused land and space while increasing diversity, educating youth, adults and seniors and providing an environmentally sustainable system to uplift communities.” Use the link here.

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