Monday, April 4, 2016

Autism Answer: My Wild Garden

I've always loved wild nature. 

I've always loved the feel and look of wild forests and plains and mountains and deserts. 

Also, for the last few years (maybe, seven?) I've been interested in having a garden, in growing food. Yet though I've been noting and knowing the incredible value of freshly grown foods, I hadn't even tried to start a garden. 

Lately, the last three years or so, I've been considering my procrastination. Why? I wonder. The first thing I always tell myself is it's my lack of green thumb, and this has truth. I've often tried to keep plants around my home and have rarely had success. They don't last long, I'm sorry to admit! But I can tell when I've discovered my deeper reason for things, and my lack of green thumb was not it. That's more of an excuse and a bit of a fear (it's not fun to learn something in public and have people see my lack of ability). But I'm not one to avoid something I truly want due to these reasons for any real length of time. Anyway, I could feel there was something deeper. 

A few weeks ago, I figured it out! My issue was that deep love of wild I mentioned. That deep belief in being part of and encouraging a wild nature. That wild child in me was uninterested in growing a neatly manicured and labeled, albeit gorgeous and nourishing, garden.

Realizing that my love of wild was refusing to back down or be put aside I listened closer. There was more than mere refusal to be caged in my wild resistance, there was reason. There was a suspicion. 

The suspicion that one of society's big problems, thinking we have a right to control and take over the nature of things, may have started innocently with the beginning of agriculture. As I let my thoughts run wild I realized that for my life to be lived consistently, a well plotted garden with rows of things and refusals of pests and yanking of weeds didn't match who I believe I am. After all, aren't I the mom who allowed her sons to be wildly themselves? Despite the rules and polite expectations of schools and waiting rooms, didn't I teach my sons to be true to themselves while respecting that others had a right to be true to them? 

Aren't I the sister who felt uncomfortable and confused with herself only because she wanted brothers who fit in? Who were convenient? Who stayed in rows of other children their ages? Didn't I learn, thanks to mom and the trust of my brothers, that my unhappiness was an insidious growth planted by others, telling me how my brothers were supposed to be if they were to be considered successful? And didn't we all grow happier, smarter, kinder, and more skilled when we instead let ourselves be who we were, despite inconvenience and the challenge of discovery? Didn't we learn that wild gardening included an encouraging of self and a thoughtful pruning that could not be planned for but was instead to be forever an adventure of purpose balanced with curious interest and open minds? 

Yes! I am that girl! I have grown in the garden of a family who is wild. And it's my nature to adore and encourage and find joy in that.

So, armed with this understanding and a heart filled with excitement, I've begun my garden.

Behind our home is a fairly large area of wild land. I save seeds from our foods and I go back there to plant them in the wild. I've even bought seeds at the store and planted them. Sure, buying seeds might sound less "wild" but anyone who spent time with my brothers (not bought, but adopted) knows some of the most wonderfully wild additions to a garden are purposely chosen and carried to far away lands by a unique force of nature. And with their addition something unpredictably new can grow! I've started to learn what will grow naturally where, and what I can do to help it. Some seeds need to be planted in specific ways and others in specific places. Timing is important. Sometimes I'll even deny one growth to encourage another, but always with love for the wholeness of my small wild garden. 

Like with my children, I don't intend to stand back and never meddle. I, too, am part of the garden! I hope to become a valuable part of the growth that is comfortable there. I'll make mistakes, but like with parenting I know that my role is not to be perfect, but to be flexible and always learning. I also know that my role is to allow the garden to do its own growing so that I can see its wild nature and encourage it, rather than think myself too much the decider of things. 

I don't know how many years it will be before my backyard wild garden and I have matured together, but I can say with confidence that we are already offering each other nourishment. Oh, and the delightful smell of digging in the dirt! The grittiness of soil embedded in my fingers and under my nails. I feel almost like a child!

I'm so happy, friends!!! 
I am an active part of a wild garden! 

(Maybe, unlike my sons, this one won't leave me to pursue dreams of film making in California. tee hee!)

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

Me in the wild garden!

*Random Addition: Please know that I don't think a well plotted, well weeded, carefully labeled garden isn't awesome. I believe that anyone who takes the time to grow their own food or their own flowers and trees is doing something healthy and beautiful! It's of great value! The world we live in today is one where food cannot be foraged and wild growth is believed to be "owned" by somebody. I find this terrifically unfortunate. But we are where we are, and a garden, pretty much any garden, should be applauded. Indeed, gardens can be grown as a form of protest and revolution! My wild garden is a reflection of me, not a judgement of others. ~Tsara