In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I opened up this blog to guest submissions, as I know firsthand that writing about plants and gardening can be cathartic. I will be posting a guest post each Thursday; if you would like to submit yours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here, Amanda Davies shares her story, The Sea of Green, which is about gardening during stressful times. She mentiones how the responsibility of caring for our plants can help ease the fear that we have for our own health. Read on, and comment using the comment box at the end of the post to join the conversation.
There’s something magical happening in my greenhouse. It’s changing me, or is the change happening within me?
I’m feeling desperately stressed right now. My anxiety and panic levels are building. I’m unfocused. I find myself pacing around the bungalow not knowing what to do. I start things then change tasks without realising I haven’t finished the first. Half scribbled lists in the kitchen remind me of what I am meant to be doing today.
Yet here in my greenhouse I feel safe. I pick up a small potted poppy and feel its weight for watering then look underneath for slugs. If I find one it gets flicked into our wildlife border where it can munch on whatever it wants.
I replace the poppy pot and begin the process again. I have over eighty potted poppies that I grew from seed last September. Why can I focus on this task, but cannot finish making the bedroom tidy inside? I’ve made the bed, but the collection of books and magazines on the floor next to it need to be put away.
It’s March so the wind is still biting, rain showers hit the roof of the greenhouse sounding louder than they would if I was in the house, but I’m snug inside this safe den even though it is unheated. Whilst my hands are busy with the plants my mind begins to make sense of what’s bothering me. The conclusion is that I am running scared.
Wales, like the rest of the UK and in fact the world, is gripped by the Coronavirus. A pneumonia type illness that has no cure. It’s killing thousands, and I am terrified it will kill me.
I’m in the vulnerable category of getting severe complications if I catch it because I was born with Fallot’s Teretology, but more recently I had an embolism in my heart caused by chemotherapy treatment for my ovarian cancer. The heart damage was only just put right in May 2019 when I had a double heart valve transplant; so now maybe you can see why I’m running scared. I might be forty-five but right now I don’t feel like an adult, I want someone to tell me everything will be okay.
My mechanical heart valve working and the birds singing are the only sounds I hear after the rain stops as I sit on my stool checking plants. Tick, tick tick – the valve opening and closing. For a second my anxiety wants to explode as I think I didn’t go through everything these last four years to be struck down with an unprecedented viscous flu.
And then the magic happens – the sea of green poppy leaves calls me closer, making me stare at their intricate patterns. The smell of damp earth calms me. The plants seem to be saying ‘we need you, we won’t survive if you don’t water, feed and plant us out in the garden just before May’. And they are right, they need me – though I just hope they know that, right now, I need them more.
About the author
Amanda Davies is on Twitter as @AmandaRake2Bake. You can also follow her Ray Bradbury Challenge, where she reads a short story, poem and essay each night for 1000 nights. Finally, Amanda also has blog called Live Positive!, which you can read through here.