Spring is finally here. I can feel it in the air—I open all the windows my house and breathe it all in. It tells me of growth, new beginnings…and weeds. The weeds are waiting, too. A warm winter means weeds have grown tall and their roots go deep.
On hands and knees I pull. It is therapeutic to me. Many years ago I introduced the concept to my daughter. Weeds are the problems of a garden. You have to constantly maintain the weeds, maintain the stress. If you do not, the roots go deep, the problem becomes larger. As tiring as it can be, you have to keep watch for the weeds. As maintaining a healthy garden is a constant, so is keeping a healthy life. I think of the similarities between approaching your garden and life as I pull out clover with ease, and crabgrass with determination. I pull off my gloves and empty the dirt that has become lodged in them.
I look up and find my daughter conquering another flower bed. The husband gave her gloves and she used them for about two minutes. She threw them aside and went after the weeds with bare hands. I smile. When she comes to a particularly stubborn one she wastes no time pulling with her hands—she goes for the shovel and digs around it. Her dad shows her how to angle the shovel around the root and with great satisfaction, she pulls it out. My husband nods a silent sign of approval. She smiles. It’s pretty massive, it comes out with clumps of soil hanging from tubers. She shakes the soil and throws the weed, and goes after the next. Hands dirty, sweat on her brow. She gets it.
She clears that which hinders. She pulls out the oppression and makes room room, provides freedom for beauty to grow. She digs deep to the roots and methodically, gently pulls up the root of the problem. All problems have roots and it takes great, gentle strength to search and pull. She starts to understand when you come to a root you can’t pull too hard otherwise it breaks and the root is free to go deeper and branch out. You have to have some strategy and restraint.
There is a deeper lesson in gardening. This is life. This is a lesson on working through the dilemmas of life. Time and time again history has revealed that women can dig to the the roots of problems and change the world. Gardening gives us metaphors on how to deal with those who oppress others. It takes methodical patience and the belief that you can pull out the root of a problem with time, if not by one’s own bare hand then with the help of someone else’s hand. Gardening is the work of grace and grit. Knowing when to gently pry and when to outright pull.
Girls, garden your dreams, garden your goals, garden your life. Girls can and should learn how to carefully move away precious earth, revealing the source of the stressor. Girls can and should learn that in order to confront problems at this level — the lowest, hardest, dirtiest level — you have to believe you can overcome. You have to find the combination of grace, grit, patience, strength and confidence.
When our girls become capable of identifying the roots of their problems, they, not us, give themselves the room to grow and they bloom on their own.