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Mucking About with Mother Earth…(a.k.a. Sheila)

As I explained in my “Fear of Flowers” post a few days ago ~ I have a long and benign fear of getting my hands dirty. Especially gardening.

Before I proceed, let me explain why it’s taken me a bit longer than I had hoped to get back to you with Part Two of my planting adventure with Sheila.

Please forgive me.

You see, it’s all because of my right big toe…

Laugh, if you like, but it wasn’t funny.

On Wednesday night this toe was bothering me. On Thursday, I had to teach. I didn’t have time to think about it. Yesterday, I woke up and it was dark, purply red, swollen and excruciatingly painful.

I could barely slip into a pair of sandals and walk without limping. I had to go to a walk-in clinic where Dr. Mandell diagnosed a virulent infection ~ not Gout ~ and prescribed massive doses of Keflex, a form of penicillin.

No blaspheming intended…

This morning, I’m still in pain, my big toe is still dark red, as is the toe next to it. The redness still runs all the way down below the knuckle of my foot. The good news is that it’s no longer throbbing as much.

Hence the delay with Part Two of my report on my “Fear of Flowers” ~ and my new found relationship with Mother Earth. For me, her name will always be Sheila.

I do not recognize my hands…

They are a bloody mess ~ dry and cracked, dirty broken nails and all. In all my life, they’ve never looked like this. But you know what? I don’t care because I have a tender new appreciation for flowers. My flowers. My little garden.

Until now, gardening and dirt. Planting and flowers held no interest for me because without fail, flowers died on me. I’d murder them. I’d drown or parch or neglect them completely. I’d send them bad vibes or whatever it takes.

If it lived in dirt, I’d kill it...

I have the rare gift for even killing artificial flowers. They get all dusty and dirty. I don’t wear floral prints. All flowers were good for was fabric and wallpaper ~ though not on my body or in any house of mine. I love paintings of flowers that hang, untouched by wind, water, drought and careless human hands with black thumbs. Like mine.

The only flowers that flourish with me are framed and behind glass.

On Tuesday, all that changed. Don’t ask me how it happened. Maybe I was so stressed-out only Mother Earth could perform her magic.

Here’s what happened….

At 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday evening Sheila met me at this huge garden centre north of Toronto. We felt we already knew each other from all our interactions in the comments. Plus she recognized my decrepit old Honda Accord.

We were “Blogging Buddies” and I loved her at first sight.

Our mission was to transform eight hideous cement boxes in the front of my house and three huge old barrels in the back. Thus far, all that’s grown in any of these containers are ugly weeds that don’t flower, just prickle. They’re an eyesore.

We entered an area which seemed the size of two or three Manhattan city blocks. The air wasn’t humid, but pleasant. There were no bugs.

It was filled with glorious colour, hanging up in the air, overflowing from pots of white and red, acres of colour at waist level. Green of every shade of green everywhere. It was dizzying and at the same time, strangely calming. Peaceful.

We only had 45 minutes before closing time…

We moved fast, though. Sheila already had a plan. For her, planning a garden is like painting. So consulting with me ~ though I know nothing ~ she started loading up a shopping cart with flats of fuchsia, orange, and green plants. Different types of Petunias, including one called Cappuccino. Begonias ~ Cocktail Vodka and Tuberous ~ Asparagus ferns, Euphorbia others with lovely lyrical Latin names.

Sheila worked like a demon while I watched in awe. Then headed to my house about 35 minutes south. It was still light enough to plant, so we began.

Showing me the way, I will never forget the feeling of digging into the moist Triple Mix for the first time.

I thought I’d hate it, but I didn’t ~ it felt curiously organic…

By the time we finished, it was after 10 and pitch black. Since then, there’s been a great deal of rain, but every morning, I jump or hobble out of bed to inspect my new little garden. I dead-head my sweet little petunias. I feel attached to them. I want them to flourish.

You see, we’re selling our little house ~ downsizing ~ a good decision. The time is right. It was our first house together. Now, we’re on to a new adventure. Smaller and better.

A good decision, though bittersweet choice. My new little garden will improve the “curb appeal” of this darling little house ~ our first house. It has never looked better.

Getting down and dirty…

Thanks to Sheila’s kindness and patience ~ her gift. I know how tickle “pot-bound” roots so they’ll adapt to their new environment. To use a trowel. Even how to water properly, though we’ve had a lot of rain.

I feel transformed, along with my yard. A genuine affection, concern for my little plants. They live for me. But I had to do the planting.

That’s the key. I had to dig my hands into the earth. Get down and dirty.

Mucking About with Mother Earth…(a.k.a. Sheila)

Sandy Naiman

Sandy Naiman is a Toronto freelance journalist.

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APA Reference
Naiman, S. (2010). Mucking About with Mother Earth…(a.k.a. Sheila). Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Jun 2010
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