Last summer we started carving paths through the brush and trees to more easily enjoy different areas around our little homestead.
One of these little paths has a stairway over a rocky hill (actually it’s old railroad ballast: just big rocks piled on more rocks filled in with little rocks) and when I finished the stairway in late-summer, I transplanted a little fern that had been growing in the center of the path. It was the hottest driest part of the year so I hauled buckets of water to the little guy daily, but by mid-fall I was sad to see it seemed to have not made the transition and was completely brown and shriveled (you can see its little brown fronds hanging over the stairs in the very center of this photo).
Last month I walked back up and over the little hill for the first time in a while, and was greeted by a gazillion little baby ferns sprouting on the other side of the hump where there had only been rocks, dirt and a little moss before.
In the middle of what we usually think of as the greyest and deadest part of the year, fresh little green stuff is busy filling in every possible crack in the woods.
All these tiny woodland babies just celebrating the return of the wettest season made me smile, and reminded me Nature has it all under control.
I’ve been growing and gardening my whole life, most of that time spent in a more urban environment. I built little areas and planted stuff and pulled out the weeds. I mean, that’s what you do, right? I spent almost half a century obsessively studying gardening books and pouring through gardening magazines for fun. I felt like I kind of knew a lot about growing stuff.
Living out here where I’ve spent most of my days from spring through fall working outdoors, I realize how much more I’ve learned about growing in these 3 short years than all those other years put together. The plants and the land tell me what’s up: what they need, what they like, where they should be. It’s taken me a while to realize this was happening, to actually listen to what Nature is trying to teach me. It makes me even more excited to get back outside and work together with this place to create more useful yet sustainable spaces for producing food and simply enjoying.
This concept isn’t exclusive to living in the country, this is just where I finally slowed down enough to actually listen and learn. Nature shows us what’s up in a crack in the sidewalk if we take the time to look and listen. Uncomplicating the way we interact with Nature is key, and I’m still learning how to do that.