Wisdom in the Weeds by
(305 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

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Wisdom in the Weeds

When I retired friends asked me what I would do with all my free time.

”Oh, I don’t know “ I said,  “probably just more of the same things I enjoy – reading,  theatre,  travel,  tennis.”

”Why don’t you try something new,  try gardening,”  one friend suggested,  “it’s great physical exercise and surprisingly spiritual.  Try planting vegetables.”

We spend weekends in the Connecticut countryside where I could have my own garden plot,  but gardening had never seemed appealing.

“It’s not for me,”  I insisted,  “I’m not an enthusiastic cook,  I’m not so spiritual,  and anyway I don’t have a green thumb.”

But in fact that perfectly describes my son who’s a creative cook, a spiritual guy,  and has even worked on an organic farm.  “Take a garden plot,  and I’ll help you plant it.”,  he promised.

And so that summer we planted tomatoes,  beans,  eggplant,  lettuce,  carrots and squash.  And I weeded and watered and with great satisfaction I watched my garden grow.

The following summer I planted again, but unexpectedly we found ourselves stuck in the city for days at a time.  A neighbor said she’d water my plants,  but I hadn’t thought about the weeds,  and once back in the country I found my garden plot looking more like a mini jungle.

I put on my gardening gloves and started weeding, and two hot and sweaty hours later my garden looked a lot better.  Of course there were some causalities –  plants so intertwined they came up with the weeds,  lettuce gone to seed,  carrots pulled up to soon,  and one very tired but much wiser gardener.

The friend who encouraged me to garden was right,  there is something spiritual about it,  in fact something quite miraculous.  And even at my advanced retirement age,  thanks to my garden I’ve learned some new things:

The sooner you plant,  the sooner things grow.

If you donate some of your beans and eggplants to the food bank, you do a good deed and you feel good too.

Patience is a virtue,  and anyway you can’t rush a tomato.

When you’re friendly,  other gardeners give you tips,  and maybe some of their scallions.

You can never have too much of a good thing,  except maybe squash.

And gardening is hard work,  but it’s worth it.

In fact it’s a lot like life,  you reap what you sow – and you get to eat all those fresh veggies!

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Gardening, Retirement
Characterizations: been there, well written


  1. Dana, Dana how your garden does grow! Makes me think I should give gardening another try. (But I need some guidance from an experienced green thumber, hint, hint)

  2. Marian says:

    Lovely, Dana. Alas, I have a brown thumb, but maybe I can have another go at cooking (I keep trying!).

  3. “You can’t a rush a tomato…” love that! And what a gorgeous, impressive array of vegetables to show for your hard work…kudos, Dana!

  4. Suzy says:

    Great story, Dana, and I love all the things you learned from gardening, which of course apply to the rest of life too. And how great that your first venture into gardening was with your son! I just may have to read that book, Vegetable Gardening for Dummies.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    I really enjoyed your list of what you learned from gardening, Dana. Like you pre-gardening, I just can’t imagine it for me, although some of my dear friends were avid gardeners. Now that they have downsized into elevator buildings, not so much gardening happening these days. I guess we would need a summer getaway place, but even then, I would have to change my urban outlook to get my hands into the soil.

  6. Loved the words of wisdom gleaned from gardening, especially “The sooner you plant, the sooner things grow!” The compost of our lives turned to blossoms of wonder!

  7. Betsy Pfau says:

    I have a true black thumb, Dana. I could kill anything, but I love your description of gardening as spiritual. Isn’t there a song in “Candide” about growing your garden?

  8. Suzy says:

    Betsy’s right about the song.. It’s the Finale of Candide, and it’s a beautiful duet that Candide and Cunegonde sing after all the harsh lessons they have learned. It’s called “Make Our Garden Grow.”

    I am struck by the fact the most of the comments here are dated February 8, 2020, so that must have been when you wrote the story —that innocent time just a month before the world went to hell!

  9. Jim Willis says:

    Great story about your gardening adventures, Dana! I love the first lesson you learned: “The sooner you plant, the sooner things grow.” There’s a real life lesson in gardening, it seems!

    • Thanx Jim!
      Full disclosure – after 10 or so summers the novelty wore off and I got lazy. When I realized I’d been neglecting my garden plot for days on end I knew it was time to give it up.

      But I did enjoy it for many years and felt good eating those fresh veggies and making all that eggplant parm!

  10. pattyv says:

    I laughed when you returned to that garden full of weeds. Exactly when I gave up on planting vegetables. OMG, the weeds were tangled, twisted clumps of muddy soil and bugs. Under a sizzling hot sun, using all one’s strength to pull them from the bed was crazy. I shared this adventure with my sis whose yard we used, and unfortunately she missed her window of taking care of the plants because of an unexpected trip. That was our last attempt at the food we gladly found at the local farmer’s markets. Now, it’s Strictly flowers and gorgeous bushes and trees. After those veggies, weeding flowers is a breeze. Oh, love my fig tree. Dana,Your son sounds like the son I never had. Love to cook. And Yes, definitely spiritual.

    • Thanx Patty, sounds like you’ve shared my gardening joys and sorrows – I now get my veggies from the market too!

      And let me boast about my spiritual son who wrote a chapter for a newly published book entitled This is Your Song Too: Phish and Contemporary Jewish Identity. (Available on Amazon if you want to drop a few bucks!)

  11. Dana: thanks for the encouragement and your feelings of satisfaction and discovery.
    Our latest drought, long winter, and terrible heat have withered my desire to help my wife garden. She has been saved from regrets by her frequent trips and work schedules. I was raised on a tiny ranch with only a tiny victory garden. We had chickens, pheasants, pigeons, and ducks. And an apricot orchard. So our backyard frequently has had a chicken coop, outdoor cats, and super active dogs.

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