Guest Post: Everything Needs to Eat
My father is an avid gardener; he's been gardening since he was a child and pretty much knows everything there is to know about gardening. A few years back, our family decided to try our hands at our OWN garden. It was a very exciting process; from plotting it out, to digging it all by hand, to finally planting it all and waiting for it to grow. As we eagerly checked our plants each day, sometimes multiple times since it was just so exciting for the two little ones who had never grown anything before, we started to notice a disturbing trend. Leaves were being nibbled, flowers being nipped, and plants literally disappearing. I called my father and said, "Okay, we obviously have something or multiple somethings eating our garden, what should I do?" He dished out the usual gardening advice like spray the leaves with dish soap and water, spread human hair around the plants etc etc and then gave me this last little tidbit that didn't really sink in until recently. He said "Over plant; everything needs to eat, Chris. It isn't going to hurt you OR the birds to plant some extra in your garden for them. As a bonus YOU'LL be happy too."
This advice was given to me years ago and today I found myself telling a woman at the grocery store that the best way to keep animals out of your plants was to over plant because the worst that could happen is that you'd have too many tomatoes and really, there's no such thing as too many tomatoes ha ha. Suddenly it hit me, it wasn't REALLY about gardening. It was about life; it was about love and kindness and doing good.
Eleanor Roosevelt has been quoted as saying "Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness" and I think what she really meant was "everything needs to eat" she was just a bit more eloquent than my father. You see, if I over plant my garden and the birds eat, we are both happy. I am happy because they leave the ridiculously overpriced and delicious heirloom tomatoes alone and they are happy because HEY! A whole tomato plant to pick at, yum!
If I am overly kind to someone, particularly someone who picks at me and tends to eat away at the best parts of me, we're both satisfied because I don't feel that I have to be irate at giving something to someone they clearly need and HEY! a whole tomato plant to pick at, I mean, no actually, I am giving them their own "Chrissi-tomato plant" to pick at.
It's an easy lesson to teach our children; we do it by example. When we go out of our way to be kind to someone who clearly needs it, when we offer to take someone's bags to their car at the grocery store even though it's three lanes over from our car but they are clearly struggling, when the person behind us in line at the grocery store is clearly exasperated by the length of the line and we let them go ahead of us despite the fact that they have more groceries than we do. It's so easy to lead by example and I guarantee that you if you over plant, you are going to feel good because of it.
Go ahead and challenge yourself to "over plant" this week...perhaps while doing so you'll "plant" the idea in someone else's head to do more good than necessary and they'll continue to pay it forward; but if they don't it's not a big loss, because at least YOU feel good about being kind, loving, and giving and you can't go wrong with that!
Shalynne is a wife, homeschool mother of many, and writer living in the cornfields of Northwestern Indiana. She is also a Certified Doula and her writing has been featured in several different homeschooling and birth related publications. She is an avid reader, proud scifi geek, and lover of Starbucks.
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