What is it that draws us outdoors? What is it that stirs us deeply when we breathe in fresh air? Answer: When we are surrounded by plants, we are reconnected.
Whether you consider the Bible fact or fable, it describes our intimate connection with nature. When God created the universe and the sun, moon, earth, waters and stocked it with fish, He did it by “speaking” them into existence. “The land produced vegetation…and God saw that it was good.”
But when it came to the climax of creating, God knelt down in the dirt and made mankind by hand. Mud pies came before Moses. “In the image of God he created them…” Soon, the Master Gardener handed the deed over to Adam and Eve “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth…”
But, there was only one plant in this idyllic landscape that was off limits. “For when you eat from it you will surely die.” We have such a caveat today in every nursery and garden center: The area marked “Employees Only” or the most tempting siren: “Not For Sale”. We can blame the snake but Adam and Eve bet their lives that this fruit was to die for.
If I were God and the only two creatures made in my image broke my one-and-only rule, I think I would just squish them and start over. But, no such drama. Their punishment? Get out. And as a reminder of their trespass, God gave us “thorns and thistles”. Weeds are a result of The Curse.
I believe that is what pulls us out to the fields, the woods, the garden, the golf course, the beach, and the mountains. It is our deep desire to return to the garden, to reconnect to a perfect place.
Scientists tell us there is a part of the brain that releases feel-good hormones when we simply smell organic soil. We are drawn to the dirt because we came from it.
And so many emotions are triggered by the scents of a sweet rose, gardenias,
fresh-cut grass, oak-stoked campfire, burning leaves, lavender, savory geraniums, and musty marigolds.
“…trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”
Why does our mouth water over the sight of a lemon or long for the full flavor of a morning dew-cooled cantaloupe?
Gardening is sensuous. Rich soil feels rich. The smooth-peeling bark of the Gumbo Limbo tree draws our hand like wet paint. Slightly furry leaves of the African violet must be gently caressed.
The wind makes no sound until it weaves between branches and then it clicks, clacks and hisses through a grove of bamboo. Then there are birds attracted to fruit and seeds and branches for cover. Their songs complete the symphony of the garden.
Every color of the rainbow is found in the garden: Saffron yellow stamens come from the crocus that match the sulfur yellow of the sunflower. Deep blue Delphiniums mirror the midnight hue of Blueberry Waffle coleus. Pure pink roses subdue the scarlet splatter of geraniums. Cool gray-green algae looks at home on the smooth trunk of the Royal Palm. Pure white iris are the first to be seen at dawn and the last to fade at dusk. We are stirred and soothed by nature’s colors, by design.
To the gardeners out there: That’s why you get satisfaction and such a thrill by digging holes, arranging, watering, and caring for your plants. You are participating in creation.