Finding solitude

Anne Helen Petersen wrote about her garden today in her newsletter. I can relate to this so much. My garden hasn’t done well this year. I over watered in the beginning which led to the green beans getting root rot, the pepper basically stopped growing, and the basil and cucumber weren’t happy.

We had very cold nights in June, which affected the pepper and the cucumbers. The success stories were the sun gold tomatoes, they are going wild, but that means they shaded the pepper once I backed off on the watering and there are two peppers on there, but it’s stopped growing. The extreme heat in July (temps around 100 for several days) meant that the early girl and roma tomatoes dropped blossoms and are just now starting to come back.

I planted sumatra basil, something different, and it turns out we don’t really like it (has a bit of a licorice taste that I can’t quite figure what to match with in a way we like). It’s been a success story, doing very well especially after I backed off on watering. And my snap dragons are finally on the way to blooming after also getting too much water in the first part of the summer.

If I’m lucky, I’ll get some more tomatoes before the cold nights start, I’ll get one or two cucumbers as it’s really taking off right now, and I’ll get some decent basil. But as I read Petersen’s piece, I thought a lot about how the failures didn’t bother me. I’m learning, next year I’ll place things differently, water much less, and see what happens. The garden is about something much more, as she says:

I find all of those things to be more restorative, more like actual self-care, than those prescribed for us within capitalism: skincare routines, pedicures, sweet treats, elaborate vacations, even massages — none of it feels as good as actually figuring out something you like to do, and then doing it as if no one was watching, and no one ever will, and it will never, ever find a place on your resume.

Knitting and crochet are just as restorative for me, but it will never be something I try and do perfectly or make money off of. And, as Petersen refers to, they aren’t things that I’m doing to make myself better, I do them because I enjoy them. I love the idea of leisure as cultivating solitude, Petersen quotes Cal Newport and thinking about “freedom from other people’s minds” which I really love.

In these times especially, freeing myself from the minds of others and all the the things I can consume and getting lost in the meditative state that knitting stockinette brings to my mind or digging in the dirt as a way to get away from screens, is the best way I can take care of myself.