I think it was March. I know it was madness, that dark, dead part of Copper Country winter that in some other parts of the world is known as spring. I’d fallen into the hellish melancholy of untreated Seasonal Affective Disorder. I didn’t know I had SAD until years later I interviewed SAD sufferers. Their recommendations became part of my self-care routine, including sun-mimicking artificial lighting and vitamin D supplements.
But at the time the only safety net between me and utter despair was a compassionate colleague. The daughter of a hometown doctor and a home-ec expert, Candy is a pro at assessing the ailing and taking them in hand. No room for argument.
“Go to the greenhouse,” she ordered. She’d arranged to have an eyedrops prescription called in for the stye forming on the lower lid of one twitchy eye.
Make Space for Self-Care
“I don’t have time,” I said. Candy insisted. We were off deadline, the Daily Mining Gazette had been put to bed for the day. I had to go to the drug store for the drops anyway. So why not stop by Sleeman’s Greenhouse?
It was just what the doctor’s daughter ordered.
The warm, humid aroma of green growing things lulled and invigorated me simultaneously. Do you know that dirt-roots-sprouting shoots smell? You should. Though the day was cloudy light reigned in this heated plastic cocoon. Most seedlings were not fully developed but many were forming buds and a few more mature varieties were showing their colors. The giant jade tree that nursery owner Bill Sleeman inherited from his mother was (and still is) holding place of pride.
The Mood-altering Greenhouse Effect
Something angry, depressed, overwhelmed and anxious had been released in realizing that no matter what my day held, no matter what the weather did, in this place and time each plant was just doing its thing without regard for the past or the future. The plants didn’t care about deadlines or pages to be laid out or chauffeuring my children to their after-school activities. It was a perfect Ram Dass moment: Be Here Now.
I’ve never forgotten Candy’s remedy. I still use it, especially in cruel Upper Michigan spring when it’s still too cold to plant anything outdoors. When it snowed in early May I visited that century-old jade tree again. Greedy for green, I also visited Pat’s IGA’s seasonal garden center.
Today I’m reviewing those inspiration shots as again Upper Michigan gardeners are called to patience, with frost warnings intruding upon the Keweenaw Peninsula’s short, intense growing season. At least the chill is preserving the apple blossoms and lilacs that now grace our landscape. That’s progress, Mother Nature-style.
Never underestimate the power of a greenhouse to lift your spirits and delight your senses. Rest your eyes. Shut off any must-do scripts looping through your brain. Even if gardening isn’t your thing, there is peace to be found.
Bonus inspiration: Louise Hay’s vintage affirmations include a lovely segment on visualizing our lives as a garden, selecting thoughts, like seeds, and planting them in the fertile soil of consciousness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbdB2ss1YLs “If you’re patient … the garden will blossom …”