Since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than three months ago, my physical life largely exists within the four walls of my home. I imagine that I’m living in a remote monastery or an arctic scientific outpost. That somewhat helps. Fortunately, my home has a small yard, allowing a safe space for fresh air and a connection with nature.
Most mornings before sitting down at my desk, I step into the yard to enjoy my tea and plan my day. I wander through the yard, admiring ever-intricate spider webs, listening to birds, and surveying what plants nocturnal critters might have dug up. My reflective strolls always take me to my fig tree.
Several years ago, my Italian-American mother-in-law gave me a fig tree cutting. Much to everyone’s surprise, the tree survived severe pruning and harsh winters. Thanks to this June’s warm and humid weather, the fig tree is thriving and growing new, bushy branches.
Gardening, whether it be tending a tiny herb patch or planting a demanding tree, represents a commitment to a given place. An individual is literally putting down roots. A gardener might not witness the culmination of his or her laborious, yet loving work for several years. It might take a decade for a tree to offer more than a few handfuls of fruit each season. Still, a gardener tends the soil, trying to encourage life.
I’m uncertain how I would be weathering this period in our shared history without my modest urban oasis. When this moment passes, I’ll continue nurturing my garden and finding solace among its greenery.