The only place you can find the power to be your best self” -Dodinsky

After lockdown in March of 2020, I was finally looking forward to an early December visit from a couple of my family members. Of course, we would all observe the necessary precautions for a safe visit. The weekend before Thanksgiving, I decided to do a complete cleaning and ready the bedroom and bathroom that would be for them the next week. While cleaning, I experienced a severe injury to my knee. After the MRI it became clear the only repair would be a total knee replacement. 

So, mid-January, I found myself in a 3-hour surgery facing a long recovery. Having been someone who traveled to Latin America on a regular basis for work, flew to see family whenever I pleased, and always happy to make spur of the moment decisions to jump into my car and just go explore, this was going to be a challenge! Just how many naps and movies could I endure? 

Not to anyone’s surprise, the first two weeks I had no interest in being entertained. Once walking with a walker, I was terrified to even go outside should I trip and mess up my knee, not to mention the scar that looked two feet long to me! So, naps, TV, phone calls and physical therapy seemed to be my destiny. I couldn’t even drive. I had become Daisy from “Driving Miss Daisy” just to get to PT and back, my husband doing the honors of Chauffeuring.  One day, as we drove home, I noticed a neighbor working on a container garden, and thought, “That looks interesting. No tilling, no digging holes, just boxes with seeds to water. YES, something I can do to fill my time.” After a short conversation, I learned that he actually would make and sell the raised garden boxes and even bring the soil and seeds. This project was on! So, in few hours, I had the beginnings of a raised garden and would be practicing “Square Gardening.” He did a great job building and installing and I now had 16 squares to practice my non-existent green thumb.

As the days became weeks and the weeks months, I began to realize that we had created a thing of joy. Oh, how excited I was when the first little seed sprouted, then the little tomato plant flourished with blooms. Every day I managed to go to the back yard and water as the sun went down. Soon, I noticed the birds and butterflies and sometimes would be greeted with a big grasshopper sitting on my okra leaves. Yes, I even talked to them at times.  I began to feel good that I had created a hobby that I loved, well, most of the time, minus the poison ivy that a mischievous bird must have dropped, oh and the bee I didn’t notice until he stung my arm. All in all the joy of my little creation gave me something to look forward to. What more could I have wanted? Just when I felt I had no control over my activities, I could own this one. 

Yes, I missed the trips, I certainly missed seeing my family and friends during that time but the creation of my little garden filled my time and it gave me food. Fried green tomatoes, red ones for my salad, okra fried and boiled, basil enough to share with my neighbors. What a thrill doing a recipe and when it called for chopped bell pepper, I was able to go pick one from my plant, parsley, mint, chives, rosemary and oregano as well. Most of all, it filled a little sense of accomplishment. For all of my career I was creating special events and programs –these months I just had two jobs, heal and care for my little garden…both were accomplished. 

Just perhaps the forced slow-down was itself a gift. Of course, I will want to travel again and have adventures at the spur of the moment but I also learned how just doing something simple can be exciting and fulfilling. Now it’s time to start a little fall garden, in fact I think I want to expand my effort with a second raised garden. I’m still learning and I have certainly learned to appreciate the people who work so hard on the farms to feed us with beautiful produce. It is also nice to learn that although my youth has passed, I can still try new things. Just one suggestion from this experience, if you, too, try this while healing from knee replacement and you ease yourself down to pull the little weeds, have a plan on how to get back up!! LOL so glad no one filmed that day.