When I was growing up, my Mom had a huge vegetable garden—the kind that fed our family of five through even the winter months with all the zucchini and green beans and dill pickles and zucchini (and more zucchini) she had preserved. I loved helping Mom in the spring—counting down the days until the last frost, marking out the rows, laying out the yardstick to plant the seeds the proper distance apart. I loved the shape and feel of the seeds—the smooth, shiny beans, the faded green of peas, the gritty nothingness of carrots. I loved misting the newly sown earth with the sprinkler "just until it puddled." And I especially loved running in from outside shouting, "Mommy, Mommy, the beans [peas/carrots/whatever] are up!" (N.B.: But I must confess to never being that excited about zucchini.) (And, as long as we're confessing things, I was never all that excited to help with weeding, watering, or harvesting as the summer wore on.)
I would love to have that sort of garden again, but with CFS, it's just not realistic. The rototilling, spading, hoeing, weeding, watering, and so on are all labor-intensive, but the real problem is that so much of the work in a vegetable garden needs to be done now. While I often have energy to do some physical labor, I just can't count on it to show up on any given day.
|Burgundy Amaranth Seedlings|
The sprouting of a seed has never lost its magic for me— the sense of excitement that "Oh, my gosh, it worked again;" the awe that something as minuscule as a carrot seed can one day produce an actual carrot, with a root and leaves and everything. (Yes, I know that it's really just genetic programming in action, but the transformation is no less astonishing for that.) Those of us with chronic illnesses are often looking for a little magic in our lives, a mental buoyancy to offset the physical lead weights, and for me watching seeds come up is one thing that provides that lift.
|Dad's GMMCS's Conquer Again|
The main thing. I've had to make many adaptations to living with CFS over the years, and I'm just now beginning to learn that the ones that work, that satisfy me as deeply as the original, are the ones where I've figured out the main thing; where I've pinpointed that little kernel at the heart of something that makes my heart sing, and found a way to nourish it and make it grow. Finding that kernel is another facet of the need to prioritize activities based on your deepest values, which I've come to see as one of the blessings of chronic illness.
Because that's the main thing.