gardening, life lessons, Losing Dad

FullSizeRender (1).jpgA few weeks before my dad passed away, I caught him eating a raw potato. A RAW potato. I jokingly asked him if he’d like me to cook it for him. I will never forget his response, “No. I like it this way. It tastes like earth.”

I lived in six different houses in six different towns growing up. Each one of them had an ample amount of Earth. At each house, my parents were adamant about having a garden, fruit trees, and plenty of green. My mom covered the house with plants of various origin and my dad focused on vegetables and fruit trees in the yard. From birth, I have watched the magic that happens when a seed becomes a sprout and a sprout becomes a plant, a flower, a vegetable, or a tree. It has always amazed me and been all the proof I need that there is something greater than myself. I remember living in York County, Pennsylvania, where we had a huge vegetable garden, and hiding between two rows of peas with my best friend. We would lay in the dirt and giggle as we filled our bellies with fresh sweet peas. There is nothing like biting into a crisp pea pod on a hot summer day. It tastes like Earth.

One of the reasons I love the garden and gardening is because it is one of the few places I can still sense my dad’s presence. Just as I can feel him smiling every time I open up a new book, my dad also lingers in the sprouting of a new seed and in each shovel full of Earth as I turn it over to start something new. When I found a house in the city with a big back yard, all I could think about was the garden I would be able to have. It would be the perfect way to honor my dad and share a part of him with Bella.

I definitely have my work cut out for me. In the first year of Bella’s life, I celebrated keeping a human alive while I mourned each plant and vegetable as one by one, they died a slow and painful death. Now I have a toddler that I still have to keep alive(not an easy task) and a yard full of weeds and random treasures that must be dug up and sifted one shovel at a time before I can even think of sowing any seeds. The process is slow and has required quite a bit of texts to mom, consults with experienced urban gardeners, and googling. I’ve also discovered that, for the most part, my gardening will have to be in containers and raised beds; something totally new to me and not exactly what I had hoped for.

There is actual scientific proof that having contact  with the earth through standing in your bare feet, sitting, or lying down on the earth, known as earthing or grounding, actually improves your physiological and electrophysiological health. In fact, when stressed or depressed, direct contact with the earth has been shown to improve your symptoms. I suffer from anxiety and depression and have actually been told that regularly walking through grass or soil will eventually improve my symptoms and balance the cortisol levels in my body. It makes sense. I spent much of my childhood barefoot and covered in grass and mud. There were many times my parents didn’t know where the earth ended and I started. “Earthing” is in my blood, but I have not done much of it in the past few years. It is a therapy I am willing to try and willing to create space for in my backyard.

This piece-of-earth project is not only for me. I want Bella to have the opportunity to ground herself daily. I want her to know what a tomato seed and flower look like. I want her to remember happily hiding in the rows of peas while she bites downFullSizeRender.jpg on a piece of earth. I truly believe an essential part of good parenting is figuring out a way for your child to connect to the earth somehow. Most people my age grew up “earthing” daily and we didn’t even know that what we were doing was actually beneficial to our health and well-being. Today, however, many of us have to work to make that happen for our kids. We are fighting against computers, and smartphones, video games, and bigger flatter TVs with more to entertain our kids every day. We need more hikes, walks in the park or on the beach, and weekend camping trips. And, if we have the space, or even just a pot of soil in the kitchen, we can fight that pesky technology with a nothing but a seed, some soil, and a little water and sunshine.

So, despite the fact that we may not see our first sprout until sometime next year, I’m looking forward to the hours of digging and weeding that Bella and I have before us this fall. I’ll be doing it with my dad’s old garden tools while I think of all his corny jokes and remember how excited he was the first time his fig tree produced fruit. Hopefully, by this time next year, I will be telling you about our very first potato and how Bella and I sat in our garden and ate it raw while we talked about Grandpa Wilcox and how truly delicious the earth tastes.


“For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon, and stars of light;  
Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”



It Tastes Like Earth


Crunchy Momma

Today I went to a place called OM Baby. Here they offer a variety of birthing classes, parenting classes, yoga classes for pregnant women or new moms, and breastfeeding classes. I know what you are thinking: The place was full of hippies and smelled like Burt’s Bees and Nag Champa. Well, not really. It was warm and friendly with a classroom and a library. It had a small store with eco-friendly bottles and breast pumps and cloth diapers. It had a variety of herbal teas that were pregnant mommy friendly. It was a place that felt good to me. It was soothing and made me want to give birth. I am so excited to get started there. Now comes the fun part where some of you will think I am crazy. I know because I have already seen people roll their eyes and tell me I don’t know what I am talking about.

I am going to have a natural birth. I have opted out of all drugs and plan on laboring at home until the last minute when I will head to the hospital. I know that birthing my daughter will be painful and I am ok with that. I am a woman and I am designed to have babies. Women have been doing this for millions of years. I want to be awake and aware during the birthing process and I want to feel any pain that comes with it. I have been told that if you opt out of drugs and pain killers, you come through feeling like a warrior and with a high like none other. That, to me, sounds wonderful! My daughter has to work hard to come out and I will work hard with her. We will do this together. I do not want a pill or a shot in my back that will cause me to feel nothing and forget this moment. I do not think I will have another child of my own, I did not think I would ever even have this one, and I want this to be something I never forget.

Once we make it through the birth, I will breast feed. This is another thing that some friends have heard from me and, surprisingly, gave me a look of horror. When did the natural process of things become so taboo? Our bodies were designed to give birth and to feed our babies. The nutrients from Brest milk are all natural and specific to our children. The process of breast feeding is a bonding time for mother and child. The breast milk is full of immunity builders and acts as a natural immunization for a variety of diseases. To top it off, it reduces the risk of SIDS, child obesity, and postpartum depression. Even more, it burns about 500 calories a day! It is a workout you can do from a rocking chair. To be honest, I am not sure why people raise an eyebrow to something so natural and I do not know why women chose to use formula which is anything but natural.

Cloth diapers are another thing I am planning on, but think I will save that post for when I am actually using them since I am sure it will be a lot more entertaining. For now, I have been surrounding myself with women who think like me, including a Facebook group called “crunchy Mommies,” and I have been trying to avoid people who tell me I’ll be screaming for an epidural the minute I go into labor. I have talked to dozens of moms who have been through natural and drug induced births and the only ones that made it seem like a totally wonderful, non-scary experience were the ones who went traditional and all natural. And if you are wondering, yes, I do start my mornings with green smoothies, vegan organic granola, and GMO free organic soymilk!

***I would like to add a disclaimer to this post. I think ANY woman who carries a child for 9 months and gives birth to that child is pretty amazing. And, if she loves and cares for the child while having to deal with all the other things life throws at us, it doesn’t really matter whether she fed the child breast milk or formula. I admire mothers in general and we all decide how we should do things and we all have opinions. However, I don’t want people to judge me for my choices and I do not want to be misunderstood as someone who is judging anyone else.