OLG (Old Lady Gardening) #9 Hanging On

We have reached the midway point for summer here in the upper midwest. Everything points to the middle. The middle of summer, the middle of the year, the middle of a heat way all line up this week.

a Dahlia handling the heat wave

The goal of any gardener now young or old is just to keep things alive and growing. It means watching plants wilt mid day hoping they will rebound during the late night hours. I am not clear how many rebounds a plant can do before it just gives up. I expect it depends on how deep its roots are. It means early morning or late evening watering. It is the caring of all plants each day – every day. When under stress attention is needed. It is all hands on deck.

It seems our gardens are mirroring the lives of many young people these days. The world stress has been pulling people down and they are having trouble with the rebounds. They are needing the constant looking out for and care that is needed with our gardens or the environment as a whole. The young folks as well as everyone else are under a great amount of stress – politics, pandemics/viruses, guns, angry people, and unsettled home lives. There are those who are not rebounding. They have wilted before our eyes giving up and turning to a drug of choice to numb the feelings of lost and fear.

The first few weeks of July three young men in our area gave in to that lost feeling. We lost their bright souls and smiles to that drug of choice. Two of those men were past elementary students of mine. They were men with complexed lives to start with. One traveling from Ethiopia as a young child to live with an Uncle here in the US to bring a better life for him and his family back home. The other from a family of mixed cultures and found himself living between here and France. Both young men struggling to find “home”. Struggling with more that I ever realized. My heart is heavy for the families of these young men. Another set of losses this year.

In this mid summer depression of heat and loss I rise each day and water the plants. I seek hope in the rebound of the plants. The blooming of another flower even in the heat. I take time to check in with my own children who are now young adults navigating this world in break down. Each making their way. Each doing well but have and do still feel the weight of the current environment. They each have lost friends who have lost their way. They each have spend hours with friends helping them hold on and finding support to bring them around. They each have parents, partners, friends, family and therapists who help them find their way through the heat of these hard times.

Just like my garden and the need to be there is so important. If we are not there for the youth of the world they will wilt away. They like our gardens need a supporting hand to help then move forward in life. I feel more than ever the need for us to listen and be there for the young. It is hard for as I age I also feel the weight and fears of a changing world but a long life has shown me how to hold on and how to find support when needed. The young still need to learn how to travel these rough roads.

It is hard to see the garden fail and sometimes all it needs is a small amount care and it can pull through. It may also be true of the people around us. So as an old gardener says – check in often, water when needed and help move the weeds away so the plants can find the light.

Here is to weeding, watering and care for all!

P.S. If you are looking for a way to see and understand HOPE – you might take time to read Jane Goodall and Douglas C Abram’s: The Book of Hope: A survival Guide for Trying Times. It came out in 2021.

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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7 Responses to OLG (Old Lady Gardening) #9 Hanging On

  1. Your metaphor comparing the garden in summer wilting and hoping to rebound, to young people with struggles we cannot see, is so powerful. Do you want to explore the idea of deep roots helping?

  2. mbhmaine says:

    This is beautifully written, Joanne, powerful and thought-provoking. Your metaphor works uncomfortably well. You remind me to check in more frequently with young people in my life even if on the surface they appear to be managing the stressors in their lives. I am so sorry to read about the recent losses in your community. Thank you for this post.

  3. Thank you for a thoughtful reflection. Sorry for the loss of your former students. I appreciate the book recommendation.

  4. Greg&Linda says:

    Great way to remind myself to check in with others. Thank you for this today.

  5. Like the other commenters, this metaphor of hope and care in life is beautifully written. I find gardening quite intimidating.

  6. What a thought-provoking and profound metaphor, Joanne. Our gardens are truly mirroring the lives of many young people these days. There is so much stress and so much trouble.

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