A Gardener’s Thanksgiving

Today is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Traditionally it’s a day for sharing time with friends and family, eating too much delicious food, watching hours of football on television, and being thankful for the things in life that too often we overlook every other day of the year.

I’ll join the millions of Americans who pause to give thanks on this day. I have much to be thankful for and expect to share some of those thoughts with the friends we’re dining with today. My list includes good health, a lovely wife, great children, a wonderful grandson, and another grandchild on the way. These, or similar sentiments, are the typical thankful subjects heard around the Thanksgiving table.

The friends we’re joining for our Thanksgiving celebration happen to be fellow master gardeners. While much of our conversation this afternoon will center around gardening, I doubt that any of us will single out gardening as one of the things we are thankful for. We probably won’t offer thanks for being a gardener.

Gardening is a central component in our daily lives and I suspect that occasionally we lose sight of that importance. We take gardening for granted and on a day like today giving thanks for being a gardener may seem similar to giving thanks for our brown hour or blue eyes. It’s part of who we are.

Gardening is not always perceived as an external subject or object to identify for gratitude, particularly on a day devoted to giving thanks for things we usually fail to verbalize. The connection with nature, the planting and growing, the color and beauty, are all part of a gardener’s daily encounters and each of us gives internal thanks every time we pause to watch a hummingbird flitting, pluck the first rose in spring, or taste a warm, sweet tomato in summer while surrounded by our maturing plants. Most of us share those experiences in conversation with fellow gardeners. We give thanks often.

Choosing to offer verbal gratitude on just one day a year does little to celebrate the importance that gardening plays in a gardener’s life. Being a gardener is a mental state and a way of living. Few others choose to experience what we do and that realization helps make our activities more special.

We understand the special feeling of seeing garlic sprouts poke through the snow in fall and of spotting the first crocus poke through the snow in spring. We feel joy when the dry, bare roots of asparagus planted when the weather is still cool suddenly stand erect as little green spears just at the point we begin to question their survival a few months later. When the speechless beauty of lilies explode in color, just standing and soaking in the experience seems the natural and obvious thing to do.

Gardeners have much to be thankful for on this day and every day. We experience life. We give life and enjoy life. The positive aspects of gardening extend to every part of our personalities.

While our spouses and uninitiated acquaintances may wonder how we can talk for hours about soil and insects and new cultivars and successes and failures, they can’t hesitate to notice that we’re conversing with exceptional interest, and motivation, and passion.

That is one more thing gardeners have to be thankful for. We are a community, a fraternity, a fellowship of like-minded souls. Though we may not know the names of the flowers another gardener is talking about, we understand the importance of beauty in each of our lives. Gardening provides us the opportunity to create, share, and enjoy beauty.

In the great scheme of things, today isn’t much different than any other day, but vocalizing gratitude to others helps identify to them the importance of each thing we highlight. Health, family, and friends are parts of my life that I am very grateful for. By comparison, the role of gardening may be deemed less important by others, but to me they’re all valuable.

Today I give thanks that I’m a gardener.


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