Stop and smell the roses

While places like Raleigh and Charlotte have been basking in the sun and blossoms of late Spring for weeks, living in the High Country results in a delay in the greening of the earth compared to our neighbors in the Piedmont and research triangle.

Due to our climate and the mountains, Winter loves to extend her grasp into May. Seasonal affective disorder seems to run rampant, and many people hibernate like wildlife, putting their exercise routines and self-care on hold. Gray weather with temperatures in the 20s to 40s can zap the positivity out of the soul, and, only with those first daffodils of February or March do we start to feel like hope is resurfacing and the cyclical rejuvenation of the seasons carries forward once more.

As I have often written, my husband is the green thumb of our family, like his mother and his sisters, and his mood immediately improves when the days are sunny enough and warm enough (i.e. over 50 degrees) to “get out in the garden.” He makes a mental note every year of the first day he notices our daffodils opening. He said this year it was early, around Feb. 15 or 16, well before the end of winter weather.

As for myself, sometimes I find that I have not looked outside or walked around our property in weeks, consumed by work and kids' activities. Because of this preoccupation, I make a conscious effort to take time some mornings or weekends when we are at home to stroll through our garden and see how the plants that have been transplanted are starting to grow as we roll into late Spring. The hostas are hearty, irises opening up, tulips finishing out, and raspberry bushes are leafing out.

Everything looks green and happy. Blueberry bushes that started out as scrawny are starting to explode with flowers. The lilac bush that my patient and her husband gave me has its whole corner of a flower bed, thriving after many years and making me smile every time I walk down the path that wraps around it.

Then there is the peony plant that we have moved multiple times. It continues to thrive and is a reminder of my Gramma Wagner's garden in Niagara Falls, New York. Before that, it was from my great, great grandparents' farm in Niagara Falls. This year, my husband moved it to our back yard and it grew six inches seemingly overnight, so happy with its new spot. Then, throughout the garden, are the sun-catchers and hanging beads that make a fantastical appearance, like we are entering another realm. It's beautiful. And peaceful. I sigh when I think about how long hours and multiple commitments can make it too easy to briskly walk from the parking area to our house without even a glimpse into the garden.

When I pause and take in this transformation, it takes my breath. Leafing out is a result of care, and sun, and nutrients, and water. It represents the plants' botanical drive to grow and as the plants grow, the surrounding living beings benefit from oxygen put into the air and beauty in our world. What if we all took time to leaf out? Stopping to ensure we drink enough water, get enough sunshine, eat good food and allow ourselves the opportunity to grow and thrive not only benefits us as people but our community around us.

So as you enter late Spring and Summer, take a moment. A moment to be silent and walk through the garden. A moment to take in the beauty of a sunny day. A moment to quench your physical and spiritual thirst. A moment to bloom.

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