Temple Grandin often talks about “hands-on” work being particularly important in a life with autism, and I wholeheartedly agree. Gardening has become an almost daily activity, and I love how it keeps me close to the shifting seasons – I’ve been helping my grandparents with their various gardens, and now we’re harvesting much of what we planted together last spring.
Months of watching things grow, pulling lots and lots of weeds (a truly meditative activity), observing birds and bugs and butterflies, planting and pruning and sweeping things together for the compost pile…
These gardens have been producing since my mom was a very little girl. My grandparents started in the 1960’s, learning about organic gardening and working in harmony with nature. Their gardens gradually expanded, and now they practically have an urban farm!
I remember my first raspberry harvest at age three, and the bumper crop of peaches that happened during pre-school years.
A parade of vegetables ripen throughout the summer – peas and carrots, cabbages and kales, every kind of salad-fixing, aromatic herbs, tomatoes and zucchini, onions, squash, pumpkins, and more – and samples of each eventually end up on our Michaelmas table as we celebrate the season’s bounty with poetry and song. The tangy smell of quince tickles my nose and makes me salivate, and arrayed alongside are juicy apples, pears, peaches, and plums – jewel-colors and graceful shapes, food for an artist’s eye!
I cherish time spent with my grandparents, hearing stories and wisdoms, being cared-for while also helping care for them…the garden is a safe haven when I’m having tic-troubles and wrestling with autism challenges like anxiety and intrusive thinking – these never leave off for long. I’ve also loved having friends over to meet my grandparents and to pick flowers there…it’s a little slice of history by now!