What the Garden Gives


I am writing this post in a time of pandemic.

The future is incredibly uncertain. It isn’t only that the global crisis of Covid-19 has revealed the uncertainty that always exists. Rather, the virus has really made the future much more unpredictable. How many will get sick? Will hospitals and health systems be able to cope? How long will children be out of school? What will the economic damage be, and how will that impact me and my family? No one knows the answers to these questions.

One thing I do in times of uncertainty is read. It isn’t always a helpful coping strategy, but sometimes it sends me in a good direction. For instance, I’ve lately been reading about ways to support and booster the immune system. Most of what the health experts have to say is predictable: eat a healthy and varied diet, drink plenty of water, manage stress, and try to stay well-rested. But two other points stood out to me:

  1. Vitamin D: Apparently, this sunshine-activated vitamin is a critical support for our immune systems. Reading about the importance of Vitamin D gave me one more reason to be thankful for my spring work of gardening. It also meant that the next time I went out to do some weeding, I did it in a tank top, despite the still-chilly breeze.
  2. Elderberry: (the photos of this native shrub are pictured above) Apparently, well-regarded studies have shown that elderberry can reduce the duration and severity of respiratory symptoms from the common cold. It isn’t known whether it will have any effect on the Corona virus, but reading about elderberry sent me to the spare freezer in my basement. Last summer, I harvested tiny, dark-purple elderberries from my yard for the first time. It was time-consuming (the berries are so small and ripe berries aren’t easy to separate from unripe green ones), but I stuck with it and froze quite a bit. But they’ve been sitting there in my freezer for months. This week, I finally pulled some of the berries out and made elderberry syrup. I boiled them down (it isn’t a good idea to eat uncooked elderberries), mashed them, strained them, added honey and cooked them down some more (there are quite a few recipes available online). The syrup is tart. I like it straight from a spoon, but my children will only eat it spooned into a glass of sparkling water.

We give and give and give to our gardens. Especially in spring.

This week, it was good for me to pause and reflect on two unexpected ways the garden gives back to me.


Posted on

March 26, 2020

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