Joys of Gardening…Now More Than Ever by Michelle Major

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[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to have author Michelle Major guest posting on the site today. She’s talking about her love of gardening. Take it away, Michelle!]

For many years, I was an avid gardener. I grew varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini and squash. Until life got in the way—with book deadlines, kid activities, and so many things that kept me going a thousand miles a minute (or so it seemed).

Then along came Covid, and everything slowed down. Everything, that is, except my mind, which swirled even faster than I could have imagined. There was so much in the world I couldn’t control. A barrage of headlines and stories of loss and heartbreak that seemed to play on a never ending loop on every news outlet. But despite everything, there were a few things I could control, and one of those was tending to my garden.

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Much like reading and writing, gardening is an escape for me. It grounds me—quite literally—and getting my hands dirty while planting or weeding or watering has become a way to come back to myself. To feel productive in a time when most everything else feels stalled or stunted.

I live in Colorado, and Rocky Mountain gardening isn’t for the faint hearted. In fact, we had a random snowfall the second week of June. Add in some fierce windstorms, baking sun, and occasional hail, and sometimes I can’t help but wonder why I bother. I’ve been known to run out in the yard in my pajamas to yell at the deer families happily munching on the branches of my newly planted trees, or to chase little cottontail bunnies away from my tomato plants (which resulted in my husband building a raised bed—he’s a keeper!). There are times when I feel like I’m channeling my inner Pa Ingalls, only Pa didn’t have Netflix beckoning to him as an easier distraction.

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But gardening is about the little victories. A new bud in the spring or the first tomato that begins to turn from green to red. Peonies blooming in all their brilliant color even after a late-spring snow nearly snapped several of the stalks. Taking care of my plants, flowers and vegetables has been a lesson in resilience, one I’ve appreciated more this year than at any other time. The best part about gardening to me is that it doesn’t matter whether you have a few acres or a few pots in a sunny part of an apartment. There are varieties of plants and flowers that can work for all environments.

Whether the tumult of 2020 inspires you to grow some of your own food or you need a mental and emotional escape from the news, gardening can offer respite on many levels. Seed companies and garden centers have seen a spike in interest this year, which makes sense since many of us are sticking close to home instead of filling summer schedules the ways we normally would. Although communities are slowly re-opening, many people continue to look for useful projects to fill their time (sourdough starter anyone?), and for me, gardening has become something I can do every day. No matter my mood or what’s swirling around us in the world, my plants need love and care, and it feeds my soul to give them that.

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As a writer, I’ve used tending to my plants in the early morning or just before sunrise as a means to start and end the day with the words of my stories filling the time and space in between. Much like gardening, writing helps me focus on something productive and—as most writers will tell you—getting through the first draft of a book or a heavy dose of edits is also a lesson in resilience. There’s planning and patience involved in both, and much of the joy comes from little victories. Whether working out a plot snag (like weeding) or discovering just the write phrase to express the emotion of a scene (that little pop of color from a newly planted flower), writing and gardening share many of the same highs and lows. And at the end of the day, it’s the journey that brings the most fulfillment. For me, that’s the best kind of obsession.

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About the Author:

Michelle Major grew up in Ohio but dreamed of living in the mountains. Soon after graduating with a degree in Journalism, she pointed her car west and settled in Colorado. Her life and house are filled with one great husband, two beautiful kids, a few furry pets and several well-behaved reptiles. She’s grateful to have found her passion writing stories with happy endings. Michelle loves to hear from her readers at www.michellemajor.com.

The Merriest Magnolia by Michelle Major, out October 13!

Home for the holidays has always meant cozy small-town traditions…but this year all that may change…

Carrie Reed has always been known as her hometown’s good girl, yet she still loves Magnolia, North Carolina—after all, this is where her newly discovered sisters, Avery and Meredith, live. But Christmas is on its way, and with it her first love, Dylan Scott—back in town and planning on changing everything she’s ever loved about Magnolia with his real estate development project…but not without a fight.

Returning to Magnolia was never in Dylan’s plans—it holds too many reminders that he would never be good enough…and memories of the girl he left behind. But when a tragedy leaves him as the guardian of a grieving teenager, Dylan returns, ready to remake the town into something only money can buy, small-town traditions be damned. But with Carrie determined to stop him, he finds himself wondering if redeeming his teenage reputation is worth losing out on his second chance at love.

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