“Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow.” —Amish proverb
Whenever I visit my Amish friends, I always make a point of wandering out to their vegetable gardens to see what’s growing. Their gardens, usually not far from the kitchen, are bigger than most people’s backyards. Gardens, for the Amish, are a family affair. Husbands help their wives ready the soil and add the home-brewed fertilizer (ahem, manure), children help their moms plant, weed, and harvest.
Like so many parts of the Plain life, their value of the home garden—for the sake of nutrition, for sustenance, for well-being—is a wonderful example to those of us who weren’t farm-raised. They’ve been living a sustainable life filled with fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables for over four hundred years. The rest of us are just catching on.
One Amish mom told me a story about her daughter, the youngest of seven. “This girl was a born worrier. Whenever she started on her worry loop, I would send her out to weed in the garden. When she came back in, her worries were gone. There’s just something about weeding that helps a soul settle down.”
I could expand that thought a little further. There’s just something about gardening that helps a soul settle down.
So, it’s late on Saturday and I just wrapped up a very long week. I spoke at three book events and finished the first draft (the ugly draft) of a novel. I’m waiting for my early reader to get back to me with critique. I can’t stop thinking about the novel. Is it a mess? Did I connect all the dots? What have I forgotten? As tired as I am, tonight I don’t think I’ve got one more word in me—not to speak, not to write. I’m spent! Done. My husband and son are out for the evening, so I had a few hours alone at home to relax.
What did I do?
I planted a winter garden: lettuce and radishes and carrots. As I dug in the spongy soil, I could feel my soul settle. Worry and exhaustion slipped away as I scattered seeds into furrows. Little by little, that wonderful God-given sense of re-creation returned. Tomorrow, I would write again. Time spent in my little garden does that for me. It renews me and gives me a hope for the future.
Or, at the very least, a good salad.
This column was reprinted with permission by “Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living” magazine, winter 2011-2012.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction, and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. The Search won a 2012 Carol Award. The Waiting was a finalist for a 2011 Christy Award. The Choice was a finalist for a 2011 Carol Award. The Letters is a finalist for a Christian Retailing 2014 Best Award. Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World and Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life were both finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year (2010, 2011). Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. She travels back east a couple of times each year for research.
Suzanne’s latest release, The Quieting, is now available!