The Holy in Weed and Soil

Today is the Winter Solstice of 2019. The longest night and the shortest day. It is considered a day of reflecting on the year; purging things that did not help; and dreaming of the new year.

I love the science and ancient history of these celebrations – reading all the newsletters, posts, memes, and poetry as others celebrate with photos and well wishes to all.

As a gardener, the earth teaches me so much. And, as I came to this Solstice season this week, I noticed something quite extraordinary.

During the Autumn months in the South, one of the chores in preparation for Spring is “bed prep.” It is the circular work of weeding, dividing, transplanting, labeling, mapping, amending, and mulching.

I call this time of the year, “putting a bed” to bed.

When I was crawling around the beds in October and November, I was continually fighting the tender and hardy perennials, hardy annuals, and leaves – lifting up the plants to check the health and size and to pull unwanted weeds.

However, as I make my final pass on this process during the last weeks of December, I noticed something vastly different.

Empty space.

? The leaves have blown away by the late Autumn storms.

? Most of the annuals have long been pulled leaving only the winter-hardy ones.

? The tender perennials have tucked themselves deep into their soil beds.

The only greens left are the tough perennials like yarrow, hellebore, alum, rosemary, and the trees & shrubs of evergreen.

And, in its place, the dark, chocolate brown, musty smelling soil is exposed. The depth of color tells me how rich the earth is and that in its darkness, it will be feeding the gardens throughout the winter months in preparation for a glorious flush of green come March.

Winter solstice season is like that for me. Deep, dark and nurturing…nourishing the roots of plant and person. Much of which cannot be seen by the naked eye. It is deeply personal, deeply moving and deeply necessary for growth.

? It is a time of feeding oneself.

? Of constriction.

? Of privacy.

? Of energy reserving.

This dark soil presents another lesson this season, especially in the South – all the weeds overlooked from Autumnal chores.

? There they are!

Indian mockberry, stonebreaker, bermuda bits, mulberry weed – all giving their last push of growth and freedom. Some, like the mockberry, are just beginning to grow again to take charge of the empty battlefield of garden.

So, with this darkness, I see the weeds.

And, again get on my hands and knees to pull them up, root and all. They are so vivid against the darkness. And, with their earlier alluding from me, have now established a tougher grasp, especially near plants that need their space.

Almost like a parasite feeding on the food necessary for another’s future growth. ?

It becomes a decision between weed and plant. If the weed stays, the plant will not be as strong.

This awareness in nature convicts me during the Winter Solstice season to take the time to not only nourish myself but to also reflect on the “weeds” in my own life.

People, behaviors, habits, activities, etc. that are inhibiting my growth.

? What are they?

? Why are they there?

? How did they elude me this year?

? How can I pull them up?

? How can I avoid them during this new year?

When the garden weeds are pulled, the backbone of the garden design presents itself in full clarity. It just pops out all of a sudden – it is actually quite a spectacular time in gardening. You can see the original vision in all its glory: height, color, texture, space, composition,…

The weeds had concealed it.

It is like that for me.

When I pull back a bit and constrict my time for reflection – then, do the hard task of reviewing my weeds – my life purpose comes into context – it comes into view with clarity and with excitement.

⛅️ It is as if my life is backlit. ⛅️

It is a light not like that of Summer but a soft, deeper, whiter light of Winter that shows edges, shadows, and outlines.

In the darkest day and longest night – there is a light, but it is deep and it is well fought for.

? It is holy. It is sacred. ?

So, get on your hands and knees – find those weeds and pull them up.

Enjoy the darkness of season and soil.

And…prepare for the clarity of the ever-growing days of light ahead.

Happy Winter Solstice. Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas.