Emily Nielson grew up in Utah and has spent her adult life living in Massachusetts and New Mexico. She has a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts-Boston in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Studies. She is deeply interested in educating her children, and has many passions and hobbies including writing, reading, various musical pursuits, learning new things, and anything that helps her be a better mom and wife. She currently lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband and four children.
On an average fall day, if you happened to be looking for me, you might find me in my garden, tasting, smelling, and enjoying. I love my garden in the fall so much that I sneak out there in the middle of the day just to LOOK at it. I absolutely love the little hand-created rows and mounds, broken and split by strong stalks of green leading up to some succulent, ripe plant: tomato, chard, cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini, yellow squash, and green bean – just to mention some of my favorites. When I’m there, I honestly feel like I’m living a hundred years ago and I could just plunk right down in the middle of a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel. One minute I’m holding a big bowl spilling over with vegetables, and before you know it my imagination goes crazy and I’m churning homemade butter and tapping a maple for syrup in a long, wistful dress.
Really, my mind goes there. But it’s not just me that loves the garden; at any given time there might be a child of mine with a handful of green beans and seedy tomato juice dripping everywhere enjoying it, too. Or there might be a husband. Or a cat (although I think the cat is enjoying mice in the garden, not the vegetables…). Basically, our garden is kind of an extension of our home, lots of good food and love.
In years past, either my husband or I have taken charge of the garden, depending on who had more time and energy that year to be the garden’s “keeper.” That person plans the garden, plants it (with the help of the family), and is constantly aware of the general well-being of the garden. Seems simple enough, right? Well, I discovered it’s not that simple, and this year my garden is very different, for a reason you probably wouldn’t expect. In February, I suffered a miscarriage at 16 weeks gestation.
At the time I didn’t realize it, but I believe it comes down to this. I had spent 16 weeks producing the most precious, beautiful fruit that can be produced by humankind. I had planned and nurtured and was constantly aware of the general well-being of my precious fruit. I did everything I could think of to care for my future child. Then, when I believed I had no reason not to enjoy my eventual harvest ….my precious fruit died. Just like that. No harvest, no fruit. No sweet, soft, new baby that was mine.
So a few months later when my husband and I began to discuss the planting of the garden, I just felt incredibly apathetic about it. I was tired and weary. Gardens are a lot of work. But now that some time has passed, I can more clearly see my real reasons for not wanting to plant the garden. I think what was really plaguing me was that I didn’t want to put my heart and soul into nurturing something that would take a long time to grow and then might just die. So I decided I would not be the “keeper” of the garden. Well, it turned out my husband was dealing with his own sadness, and very busy with work and church service; so although I believe he really wanted to plant the garden, in the end, he wasn’t up to it either.
Ultimately, we did find the wherewithal to half-heartedly throw some small tomato plants in the ground, months later than they should have been planted, just because we really like tomatoes. But I believe the tomatoes somehow sensed our lack of caring towards them because they refused to produce their delicious fruit. They grew into big leafy plants, giving the appearance of being healthy and productive, but few blossoms grew. Oh yeah, two squash plants made it into the ground, too. Then, squash bugs (which I honestly didn’t know even existed) decimated those two lovely squash plants to shriveled, gray vines in early summer. So now, if you look in my garden, the land is barren and sparse except for a few dead plants. All summer and fall, I have missed the garden.
This week, when I went into the backyard to grab something for the kids, my eyes wandered over to it: the faded, empty patch surrounded by ivy and multi-colored roses. I surveyed the run-down garden plot, and again thought of the delicious food I am usually preparing with the so-much-better-tasting-than-supermarket produce. I felt the familiar pang of wishing we had taken the time to properly plant and care for the garden.
In that moment, quietly but clearly, a thought came to my mind. It was a hopeful, beautiful thought that I credit to God, although some wouldn’t. That thought was a reminder of the beauty of SEASONS. Seasons start and end, come and go. Suddenly, I realized that this season was at an end. My dirt patch of a garden, now in the beginning of November, was not barren and dead because we had neglected it, ALL the gardens right now are barren and dead because THE SEASON IS OVER.
My mind quickly jumped to the fact that next spring was a completely NEW season, untouched by the misfortune of any past seasons. New blossoms on the trees, new seedlings sprouting, new life all around us! I can’t tell you the joy and relief that flooded my mind as I realized the value of seasons starting over and all the changes that go with them. We could start over with our wonderful garden and in just a couple of months; it could be resiliently returned to its former glory, without its holding a single grudge against us. Almost simultaneously, I realized that like our garden, my family and I could recover from our miscarriage, healed and blessed with a fresh and new perspective on life.
I think the most important lesson I have learned about the beauty of seasons, as I now carry another unborn child, is that while some seasons bring sadness, there are many more seasons to be lived which will bring happiness, as well. Amazingly, the bitterness of one season can lead to sweeter anticipation and sweeter enjoyment of seasons to come. I look towards next season, eagerly hoping and praying for a wonderful, fruitful harvest, both in our garden and in our family. In the meantime, I realize that soon this season will be gone as well, and while I might not miss it, I will always be grateful for the lessons it taught me.
What is your favorite season? Why?
If you have a season you don't like, can you identify why? What would happen if you found something to embrace about that season?
I like Emily's line — “ Do you dream best in any given season? Why?
Do you dream best in any given season? Why?