Lessons from the Garden

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
I have often considered writing a book entitled “Everything I Need to Know About Life, I Learned in the Garden”. It is true, really. I would have chapters like Everything is a Weed if It’s Growing In the Wrong Place, Proper Planning Makes Things Easier, Oftentimes You Just Have to Pull the Weeds to Make Room for the Good Stuff (And the Ones That Refuse to Leave May Need a Little Hoeing), Proper Soil Leads to a Healthy Crop, Wild Oats Always Leave Residual Work (But the Memories Make You Smile While You’re Tending the Mess), The Right Tools Make All the Chores Easier, and Grow Where You are Planted.

One of the more difficult lessons came to me through my little vineyard. I was so excited to plant my grapes. I researched and found the varieties that I wanted and that would do well in my planting zone. I dug the holes, honored the plant spacing, covered the little roots and waited for them to grow. And as they grew, out came the most amazing shoots and HUGE leaves. I was thrilled.
A couple of months after, I had planted the grapes, I could tell that something about them was driving my neighbor crazy. I could see him pacing back and forth past them, longing to reach out and…who knows what? Every night I saw him watching and waiting for curiosity to kill me. Finally, one evening I marched myself out there to find out what the deal was, knowing full well that I had a lot to learn in the area of growing grapes.
About every other person in my community is a winemaker or a viticulturist, and my neighbor is the latter. Me, planting grapes right out his side door seemed like “bringing work home to him.” As it turns out, according to Rocky I needed to get those grapes onto a trellis and prune some of the branches and leaves. Appalled that he would want to prune these beautiful vines, I heard myself squeal, “Why would I do that?! They are full of grapes.” His wise reply was, “If you make the hard cuts now, it will make room for better fruit later.”
How profound! I have thought of that statement often. When I face hard choices I find myself at the grape trellis, reminding myself that if I cut those things from my life that are sucking the life-energy out of me, it will leave more room for the “true fruit” later.
The older I get, the more I look back and wonder if my life has produced “fruit.” I often think about all the times I spent being to afraid to prune away things that were sucking the life out of me—things like past hurts, failures, unfulfilled dreams and resentment for allowing others to “put things onto me, which were never mine to hold or to do.” I allowed it, not wanting to disappoint or come across as someone less than the person they thought I was. I said yes to all the wrong things. (Not that they were bad things they just weren’t mine to do.)
I have found that we can get very distracted trying to live up to other people’s dreams and ideas of who they think we should be. Meanwhile, our own dreams and visions go unrealized as the seasons come and go.
Since I have applied this little “pruning lesson” to my life, I have found that I am happier. The fruit I produce is more rewarding to me and to those I am responsible for sustaining.
I love the lessons I have found in the garden. They come softly with the most amazing fragrance, and their truths stand the test of time.

  1. sharon says:

    How fortunate you are to have a neighbor who could gently guide you to the wise ways with grapes and how lucky for this reader to be reminded just how this applies to life. So true, so true. Here’s to quality and true joy in each day’s opportunities.

  2. Jenny says:

    I just can’t tell you how much I needed this post today. Truly, truly needed it. From one gardener to another, thanks for helping me keep some things in perspective. I think I love you. 😉

    Isnt that an old partiridge song?  I think I love you but what am so afraid of.. I afraid that Im not sure of a love there is no cure for…. Now you have Rebekah and I singing that stupid song….. thanks!  :)..

  3. Lisa says:

    What a profound thought. I love your view of life. Thanks for sharing!

  4. meredith says:

    p.s. please write your book. 🙂

  5. Gary says:

    Brilliant Bloggie Rene’…!
    Your "Grapevine-Parable" is very thought provoking and well spoken/written. Life is much like a grapevine, and yours appears to be very productive young Lady.
    Your grapevine photos are beautiful, and since they live hundreds of years, one day your Grandchildren may tend that same vine, speaking of you, as they harvest fruit you planted today.
    Beautiful… just Beautiful…
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

    Thanks Gary, I keep my clippers sharp LOL 🙂


  6. Linda says:

    That was wonderful, I didn’t expect it, yet it was just what I needed. And, like Gary said, please write your book! Linda

    Thanks Linda.. all the encouragement has been such a gift!

  7. Reba says:

    Thanks Rene. I needed to be reminded of these same lessons for myself while listening, crying, and talking with a sister that is currently going through divorce after 38 years of marriage. It is so hard to know what to say. I am learning much about listening, as you listened to someone wise about your vines.


    I am so sorry to hear about your sister. Such pain. I went thru ti with my little sister a couple years ago, as much as we would like to wish that there would be some magic pill for the pain they are in, there simply isnt. But healing does come. Often times just listening IS the medicine they need.

  8. Blair says:

    Wow Rene- I just love your blogs.
    When I turned 29, I was kind of bummed that it was my last 20th birthday and that being 30 soon, I would officially be an "adult".(other people would view me as an "adult") I just didn’t feel that I had made the most of my 20’s and was disappointed in myself for not taking advantage of those years. So I made the decision to "prune" my life; Not be afraid to make big changes, Do what makes ME happy, makes me grow into the person I want to be, not necesarily the person others think I am or should be. It has been so liberating and I am happier now than I ever have been. Setting aside the fear of disappointing others has really made me get to know myself and truly enjoy my life. I am still a good employee and daughter and friend, I am just a better friend to myself than I ever have been in the past.
    So like your grapes, I was doing pretty well as I was, but a good prune was in order to ensure the very best fruit had room to grow.


    Awesome!  I am so impressed that you were able to learn that while young.. I am a "late bloomer" I suppose. It took me into my 40’s, but like you I am a happier and healthier person for it…

  9. Noeletta says:

    Kudos!!! Love, love, love it! Now we all just need to live it. 🙂

  10. Roma says:

    Dear Rene, Reading your blogs this afternoon made me aware again how things can clutter our lives and rob us of our peace. My husband and I are moving for awhile to Montana to care for our new grand-baby. While packing up needed things, for the next few months, I discovered so many unneeded things in every place I looked. So much stuff! Stuff filling every drawer, closet, and cubby there is to find. Pruning away the "stuff" has been a hard thing to do. (Thinking that I need all that Stuff) Finally I started bagging up all that unneeded stuff and put the bags out on the back porch to be given away. I’m a quilter and we quilters love fabric. Any 100 % cotton is like chocolate to a quilter. We love buying it, looking at it and sometimes even making a quilt with it. Purging fabric is like pruning your grape vines. It’s painful, but finally getting the bags out of the house to be given to a local church to make quilts for others, I looked around my house and felt renewed energy. Less clutter, more room to breathe. Thanks for the reminder that pruning or de-cluttering is fruitful, refreshing and liberating. Now, if I can resist going to the quilt shop. Thanks my new friend.

  11. hobbit says:

    I know too many people who live their lives the way they think other people expect them to.I always encourage them to be themselves and not let society dictate there path.It’s not an easy path to chose,be yourself is the best advice you can give someone but the hardest to follow.

  12. grace brown says:

    Oh Renee, what a great analogy….

  13. Leanne says:

    I, too, so hope you write your book!! I love the Chapter titles and could write my own stories right along with you! We are getting ready for a garage sale, and I find myself sincerely wanting to open up our entire house for people to walk through and take what they want! If only it could be so simple – I’m not sure my three young-ones would be appreciative that mom just wants to simplify!!! But, you are so, so correct that pruning away the negative and weighty items will just lead to more beautiful fruit in the end! Thank you for your ongoing direct, as well as sometimes subtle messages that reach our hearts!

  14. Catherine says:

    This has been a meaningful Blog. How hard it is to make the cuts later. And talking about clearing clutter. I had a house fire once and it all was gone instantly. What a spiritual experience. Things are replaceable, and to get rid of so much that isn’t needed, how cleansing. Even in relationships it is hard to make the cuts now, when able the fruit is so much better later.

  15. melissa says:

    I think I am having a "god moment"! I just blogged about this the other day. How life is like gardening. I am allowing my inner farm girl to come out. Three years ago we bought a 120yr old farm house with a few acres. I have enjoyed planting and preserving and getting to know my farm girl neighbors. I have learned that when you work hard for something it is more appreciated and valued. And a simple life is a more refreshing one. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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