Because gardening is such a solitary practice and in many ways repetitive, it can easily serve as a form of meditation. When you’re going through a difficult time — or have a serious problem to work through — there’s nothing like pulling up weeds or pruning back a wayward shrub to help focus the mind.
There’s also a primordial aspect to it — the sense of being the latest in countless centuries of hunter/gatherers who have worked the earth. I feel that most deeply at the very beginning of spring — when the fields are still blanketed in morning frost — that yearning to dig my hands into the soil. To once again join the healing rhythms of the natural world.
In So Near, my character Jenny is a gardener who shares these feelings. We first meet her in a garden she has inherited from her in-laws, a rambling, overgrown affair that she is just starting to rehabilitate. In the very next chapter, tragedy will strike — shattering Jenny’s life. And Jenny will start to tear the garden apart:
“Though I had an overall sense of where everything should eventually end up, in truth my plans were really nothing more than vague yearnings. Distant and shapeless. An outsider would probably see it as the work of a crazy person—or someone crazy from grief.”