Gardening as Therapy on New Year’s Day

| January 2, 2016 | 6 Replies

I tried gardening as therapy on New Year’s Day. I don’t know about you, but times have been tough of late, and the best way I know to feel better is to get in the garden, which you can do in Southern California in winter! My husband took a rare day from his work to lend me a hand and we got so much done. You know how it is, you get busy and you feel lucky to get seeds in the ground. Much of your mess winds up on the sidelines and you never get around to making things look nicer. When you have a front yard garden, you really do have to make an effort, LOL! That was yesterday. And it did lift my spirits to start the year off with the garden looking more kempt.

Gardening as Therapy on New Year's - angel

Marble angel, salvaged from my old neighbor’s yard, watches over my succulents

Two recent deaths of friends were jolting. My son’s mentor, boss and friend, Mike Giannini, indispensable sustainable cattle rancher at TomKat Ranch, died unexpectedly just before Thanksgiving. Though I’d only met him twice, I mourned for days, for the deepening relationship with my son that might have been and the knowledge yet to be passed on. So much unfinished business.

Our Christmas ski trip had to be cancelled and we flew to Northern California for a memorial service the weekend before Christmas. We went back up by car on Christmas eve so our son, Walker (see him in “Modern Day Cowbow”), wouldn’t have to be alone for Christmas, because the cattle had to be fed and cared for. We saw him in the evenings.

Gardening as Therapy on New Year's Day - Mike Giannini & Walker Kehrer

Livestock manager Mike Giannini with Walker Kehrer, June, 2015

Since we were driving up, I took the opportunity to film overwintering Monarch butterflies on the California coast, which will be the subject of my next episode, the Season 4 finale and #80th episode! I have been collecting footage of Monarchs and their life cycle since I started to grow milkweed for them in 2012. I’m very excited about this episode, which I need to be working on right now.

Gardening as Therapy on New Year's Day - Angela McEwan©Kaye Kittrell2013

Angela McEwan, the first day we met wearing my favorite color, August, 2013

Another friend, Angela McEwan, who became an actress after she retired from a career as a translator, died the day I returned from Mike’s memorial. Angela found fame late in life in a memorable film role in “Nebraska,” but she lighted up everyone’s life who knew her every day of her life. She was a follower of Late Bloomer before we met. She walked into an industry breakfast in 2013, above, and when she saw me, she squealed, “Late Bloomer!” We became instant friends. When I learned of her death, I checked email and saw that she had read my blog post on Thanksgiving Day and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. I now recall seeing that email and smiling, but I didn’t reply. Dying of cancer she reached out to me with good cheer, and I didn’t even know she was sick. She truly was a late bloomer. I will sorely miss her.

Another old friend is in I.C.U. Those are just some of the highlights (of the low lights), and I won’t even get into world news. It’s a trying time. At least my holiday cactus performed on cue!

Gardening as Therapy on New Year's

Holiday cactus in bloom

Spending time with friends, gardening and healthy food choices are three things I engage in to keep my spirits up. New Year’s Eve day, I took a walk around the Lake Shrine with my friend Mei Ling. That was so peaceful, and when she suggested it, I knew I should stop whatever I was doing and go. And that really helped. Getting through some of this Monarch footage will help me feel better, too. It’s one day at a time and one step at a time when things seem overwhelming. How do you manage the hard times? Do you use gardening as therapy?

I take my self-appointed role to inspire very seriously, so I’ve been a little quiet here on this blog of late. I promise to dig deep and find ways to inspire in the new year upon us. Thanks so much for your support in 2015!


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Category: Community, Garden Musings, Urban Gardening

Comments (6)

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  1. Sheila says:

    Gardening has always been therapy for me, from the first garden to the one I have now. It’s been 40 years now and its just as exciting today as it was when my first beans set and the Nasturtiums bloomed.
    I hope your garden is a source of comfort and joy this coming year.


  2. Gardening has always been my therapy . When my middle daughter was born with an emergency c section with complications ,it was a month till I could get out in the garden. When my husband died he asked for his ashes to be spread on the compost pile so when I clean stables or make compost it is always a meditation . These days I go into my greenhouse and gather greens and even flowers and absorb the heat! I saw a thing on Sunday morning about a film done by Jane Fonda and Lilly Thomlin called “Grace and Frankie?” about women of a certain age becoming invisible. I must see it. I thought it was just me!!!!

    • Great to hear from you Sharon! It’s “Grace and Frankie” and it is a TV show streaming on Netflix. If you have Netflix, you can watch it online or TV. The first season was wonderful. I am so looking forward to visiting you this year, and suddenly things are looking bright! I’ll give you a call when I get over this cold! – Kaye

      • Hi Kaye, I hope you will get to visit this year. January is a time for setting intention as well as planting seeds both by ordering or in your case planting some or planting mental seeds and maps of what we’d like to do. It went from 70 to 15 degrees in a matter of days .My gorgeous milk thistle in the garden wilted even under the row cover and the chickens instantly quit laying. I have blossoming flowers on my kitchen table from my flowering quince in the yard . I have learned to go with the flow . I have a quote for you as well as your son . “You can not move the herd if your cow is running against the stampede- but you can start nudging the cows next to you and it will ripple horizontially ” Not sure how that works- I think I might get run over by the herd.

        • I’m not sure how that would work, either, but it sounds like it might! Wow, you got hit with cold weather. Glad you are okay. Another cold rainy day here and nasty wind prevented delivery of two more rain barrels till tomorrow. Even so, I don’t know where they will go, but maybe Scott can advise me. I did go out and stick about 40 sweet pea seeds in the Back 40. Tomorrow, more. Take care, my friend.

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