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Yes, I have Bipolar II, and it is (mostly) well controlled. And anxiety, which is sometimes controlled. This blog is to document my successes and failures as I attempt to maintain a garden despite the above. Here's the pattern:

Spring: "Yea! I planted lots of vegetables that will grow big and yummy! I'm weeding! I'm watering!

Midsummer: I should weed. I should water. I should pick those before they're too big. (Insert anxiety here.)

Late summer: Weeds have eaten my garden, everything is overripe, and I let the stuff rot before I cooked/canned/froze it. I'm a terrible gardener. :( (Insert depression here.)

Despite my challenges, I manage to get a few good tomatoes, zucchini, and yes, pumpkins every year. Why do I torture myself like this? Because for me, this is profound therapy. Feeling earth in my hands, watching things sprout, digging, moving rock, and bathing in the early-morning sun nourish me. Nothing tastes better than a tomato, zucchini, or strawberry that grew despite all my bumbling attempts to kill it. If I can laugh through it, make others laugh, and inspire others, healthy or otherwise, to get out there and grow, then all the better.

Helpful: encouragement, support, shared stories of success or failure, and any and all gardening advice.

Not helpful: medication advice (I have great medical support); "try this great herbal stuff!" (I have a wonderful naturopathic doctor); or "quit complaining and just get over it!" (Believe me, I would if I could.)

Happy reading!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Smell of Earthworms and Chicken-Poop

Reading back, I realized my previous posts were about what I've done, instead of what I've experienced. That seems to be the nature of hypomania--it's all about doing. When I'm all about doing, then I get anxious about all that needs to be done, so I get hyper focused. I've been focused on planting, watering, weeding, mulching, etc, but feeling? Smelling? Listening? Not so much.

This week we had a couple of beautiful, cloudy days. Those were good days for doing, since it was cool, and the sun wasn't blinding. The quick-and-dirty version of what I did: pulled weeds (of course), planted another watermelon (this time a yellow one!), hooked everything up and added chicken-poop fertilizer, and planted bean poles (yes, bean poles, not pole beans.)
I've been intoxicated by the smells: decaying wood mulch, rotting compost trying to find its balance (too wet, too dry, too wet, sigh, I'll get it someday), earthworms, and chicken poop. I came in the house Tuesday evening smelling like a barn. :.) The mornings sound bustley--like chittery joyous birds, dogs barking, lawn mowers a block away, the soft whisper of leaves quaking, and Puppy squeeking her toy ball.

This morning had a different quality--that still, silent calm that forcasts a still, sweltering day. Even the birds murmured quietly, punctuated occasionally by the cack of a distant crow. By 7:00 a.m. leaves were already wilting, despite being watered last night. I'll check them tonight, and give them a cool drink. Instead of that wet, earthy smell, everything smells dusty, dry, and thirsty.

The compost is patchy--mostly dry with clumps of wet, rotting, stinky leaves. I stirred it up well, and tried to break up the leaves, then added a little more water with the veggie scraps. I think this is one of those arts that just takes a lot of experience. Sometimes I feel like I need a PhD in agriculture to figure out composting. Mostly I just throw stuff in and wait for it to rot.

Emotionally, this is the time of year when I feel the most calm about the garden. Plants are planted. Watering is easy, because you can still see the base of each plant. Weeds are tiny, and still fairly spread out. Nothing is ready to be picked yet except a few lettuces, so nothing is waiting to be picked, peeled, chopped, canned, garbled, bundled, dried, cooked, frozen, or eaten. (Well, except apple mint. I should probably garble and dry some tonight.)

Does anybody else write blog posts in their head as they are going about doing whatever they blog about? I'm searching for that balance between experiencing gardening with each of my senses, and keeping each of my senses alert for something to write about later.

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