There’s a market out there for garden yoga. I could write a practice manual & call it “Yogini in the Garden” so that everyone can learn how easily the act of pulling weeds can be transformed into yoga poses. Of course I’ll never do this. After all, the entire reason I’ve incorporated yoga into my weed-pulling regimen is because lately I’ve found it challenging to make time for my actual yoga practice. It’s cool though, as I’ve learned over the years that yoga is a state-of-mind as much as it is a physical practice. When we have reaped the benefits that transpire from a consistent long-term yoga practice, we can’t help but become forever passionate about the art form. We inadvertently find ways to take it with us for the rest of our lives. We live our practice on a daily basis, in everything we do. Maybe that means we find ourselves incorporating ujjayi breathing into those moments of physical or mental stress at work or at home with the kids. Maybe we wake up the brain each morning by practicing balancing poses while brushing our teeth or washing dishes at the sink. Yoga broadens the big picture of most things in life. It helps us consider the entire system, the whole process & contemplate more than what meets the eye. In other words, yoga not only opens the joints & muscles, but the heart & the mind as well. I hadn’t contemplated this truth lately. But I was forced to delve deep into my yoga soul over the weekend. It was challenging. But it was good for me, & I needed it. I found myself breathing through cat stretch, on my hands & knees in the dirt of my glorious garden while pulling weeds, & unfortunately examining rabbit scat & dreaded deer prints in my soil. As you can imagine, neither of the two are a welcome discovery for a gardener to make.
“Breathe through the anxiety,” I told myself upon the realization that they – the deer – had officially found my garden. I pushed back into down dog, glancing to the left on the inhale only to discover they had nibbled on a few leaves of my potato plants. Glancing to the right on the exhale, I found relief in knowing there was little damage & I dropped back down to my hands & knees. I pulled a few weeds, tossed them to the side, sweat dripping from the tip of my nose, disappearing into the soil below. I steadied my breath & reluctantly scanned the garden, searching for more evidence. I was pleased to find they hadn’t yet discovered the okra or pepper plants & I assured myself that we still had time to come up with a game plan before the next midnight rendezvous.
“The deer have found my garden,” I whispered to myself. It was a harsh reality, heavy & deeply disappointing in a stupid sort of way. Had I really been so naïve to think they wouldn’t eventually make their way into my buffet of sugary garden goodness? An icky state of unease washed over me, the sun faded to grey & I became conscious of a storm moving in. A few more weeds, a few more breathes, & the wind began to pick up. Inhaling up onto my knees, I reached up high toward the blanket of cloud-covered sky above. I stretched & stretched.
“How cool & creepy,” I thought to myself. It was almost like the weather was tuning into my state-of-mind. “Chill out Kristin. There’s no damage yet.” Exhaling, I dropped back into camel pose. For those of you who don’t practice yoga, I urge you to go ahead & Google camel pose, it will likely make this moment so much more comedic for you. Also the description of the pose I’m about to give, will most likely fall short, making me sound as though I’m a practicing contortionist for Ringling Brothers or Barnum & Bailey’s Circus. I promise, it’s not that in-depth of a pose. It’s just really hard to describe. Anyway, I’m on my knees, I’m arching my back, looking up to the sky & placing my hands on my heels. I dropped my head back as far as possible, shifting my gaze to the front of the garden. Essentially I’m upside down, without actually being upside down. (I realize this sounds like I’m on LSD. I promise, I was completely sober & just trying to get my yoga breath on for tic or two…) So, I closed my eyes & tried to relax into the pose. I contemplated the fact that the deer are surely salivating over the soon-to-be candy flavored Cali wonders & sweet peppers & my delicious tomato plants. Oddly, I’m enveloped in a warm satisfaction as I daydream briefly, picturing the deer munching on my tart, seeding, leggy lettuce & I smile at the thought of them being surprised by the bitter bite. Sure, I realize their taste buds probably aren’t like mine. After all, they’re deer, not humans. They probably dine happily on bitter berries & sour seedlings all the livelong day. But the thought of those destructive deer crunching down on pithy plants brought much joy to me at that moment. I opened my eyes. How immature & semi-cruel am I? I just found fleeting pleasure in imagining a wild creature gagging on unripe roughage! Weird & pathetic.
“It’s okay Kristin,” I tried to talk myself up. “You’re just a little ridiculous & frazzled right now.” I exhaled & closed my eyes again, releasing the anxiety from my person & finding comfort in knowing the garden is still in tact for now. I open my eyes on the inhale, ready to pull more weeds & press on. That’s when I see it.
“A broken branch! A broken branch right there!” I literally screamed those exact words in a guttural voice, which I personally didn’t even recognize as my own. Mind you, I’m in a contorted position at present. I’m doing a yoga pose which I’ve not done in a good, long while & when I tried in desperation to ‘undo’ myself from this position, I managed to fall – a fantastically ungraceful fall I might add – sideways to the ground, crushing my carrot tops in the process. Sure enough, my itty-bitty baby green roma tomatoes, so full of hope & desire to become part of a delish Italian dish, GONE. My baby mortgage lifters, early girls, & heirloom beef babies… Nibbled or all together GONE. I kid you not when I say, a tiny tear trickled down my cheek & I punched a zinnia. I actually, physically punched a flower. Then- as if that’s not silly enough – I screamed to the deer in the forest, “I just punched a flower!” Imagine this moment, would you? It was not good & it was borderline cartoon-like. I cried to my husband like a big, fat baby. Luckily he talked me down. He is almost always a wave of calm in a stormy sea of Kristin crazy. He assured me that there are plenty of other tomatoes still on the vine that I had overlooked & only a couple broken branches. Upon further inspection, I realized I might have overreacted a smidge. But still, they grazed on my maters for God’s sake! Given Josh’s line of work, the man does know a thing or two about this sort of jazz. His words should have calmed me down a bit, maybe helped me realize that we are in fact, not out of the gardening game just yet. However, that was not the case. I was on the brink of a mini-meltdown.
“We’ll find a way to keep the deer out,” he said calmly, as he turned & walked away, heading back toward the house like it was no big deal.
Have you ever watched a Lifetime movie? You know how there’s always a psychotic woman character who hears words echoing in her head, right before she completely spaces out & does something completely insane like shoving a defenseless elderly lady down a flight of stairs? Well…. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but in that moment, I was that person. If I had a weapon, things would have gotten dicey…. Quick.
All I could hear was his voice echoing, “keep the deer out, keep the deer out, keep the deer out…” I felt evil & sad & more than anything in the world I wanted deer jerky. Immediately.
But then, something wonderful & almost magical happened right before my very eyes. The thunder began to roll, the sky grew dark, the heaven’s opened up above me & within a few seconds, a hard, driving rain was pouring down upon me! It was the long awaited, true blue summer storm I had been dreaming of for weeks upon weeks. Not only did that rain wash away my salty sweat & crocodile tears, it washed away my one-sided, selfish, egotistical attitude as well. I know it all sounds a little dramatic & kind of silly, but with each clap of thunder, I envisioned my hardened heart cracking open a little wider & a little deeper until my sweet yoga spirit began to flow freely once again. In that moment, I felt one with nature. I felt ashamed of my hostility toward innocent wildlife. After all, I’m trying to grow food for ME in THEIR home. I laughed at my elitist, superiority & my naïve, lack of garden wisdom. I started spinning around in circles in the rain like a 5-year-old. It was WAY FUN & totally liberating! Let’s just pray my neighbors weren’t spying through the trees, because if so, they definitely think I was conjuring up souls over the weekend.
That storm was a baptismal experience for me. I felt so in tune with nature & God & the Universe at large. I truly had the girls run inside & bring me shampoo, conditioner & soap! I literally washed my hair & body in the warmth of summer skies & it was truly the most amazing thing I’ve done in years. I felt like a new person with a new outlook on the world around me. I felt connected to everything in that moment. (Sidenote: I actually think the rainwater was really great for my skin & hair too, but that’s a blog for a different day.)
In closing, I just want to say…. I’m not crazy.
Also, we have a scarecrow now. Her name is Granny. I slathered her in Josh’s old “Calvin Klein” cologne, which we’ve somehow managed to hang on to since he was in high school. (Yes, that’s over 20 years, 3 different states & about 7 different houses ago… Why do we still have this stinky shit?) Anyway, it has been put to good use. The deer have not been back & we are working on a plan for the fence tonight. Until then, keep up the good work Granny!
ABOVE: This is “Granny”… Keeper of the garden.
ABOVE: Zuchinni, cantalope, squash, watermelon, cukes, Kentucky Wonders & Zinnia
ABOVE: Our first Red Hot Chili pep harvest
ABOVE: Our first homegrown snack. Multigrain stacked with tomatoes, green onion & basil fresh from the garden… Baked with goat cheese, olive oil, s&p…