Moving to a city (albeit a small one) was quite the change after my time living the idyllic life in a quaint country town with my large garden and ample time spent outdoors enjoying everything from the rich wildlife to the clustered stars every night. I think I might miss the stars the most. Time spent in nature is one of those essential ingredients to my happiness. Without it, I just feel less whole. Less me.
As a woman I live by the cyclical nature of the earth - the moon phases, the seasons, the endless cycles of birth and death. My body and my spirit are deeply connected to these cycles. I bleed with the New Moon, I ovulate by the Full Moon. I adapt and react to the changing seasons, baring witness to the earth's continual movement and cycles.
To be out of touch with the natural world - the soil, the trees, the water and the plants - is to be out of touch with myself. I believe this to be true for all women. When we are out of touch with the natural world, we are out of touch with one of the most direct links we have to the feminine divine.
Last year proved challenging for me without the direct access to being immersed in nature. It wasn't as simple as opening my window and looking out over the pond and fields to witness the growth and wildlife all around. I had no garden to tend, no soil to till. There were a few houseplants to fuss over, but nothing like the satisfaction of digging in the dirt and growing herbs and vegetables.
So although moving to a city has provided such a wonderful abundance of new projects, friends and discoveries, it has been so hard to get that essential happiness ingredient in my life. I do love my home - a large, but somehow still cozy loft in an old Providence rubber mill. Our space is in what used to be the boiler room of the rubber mill, the huge boiler plate still in place amidst the beautiful brick walls and exposed pipes and ducts. During the winter, I feel warmed and protected in the space. But once the weather started to warm again this year, the seasons shifting towards summer, I knew something had to change this year in order to escape that wilted feeling of disconnect.
My herbal training program has done wonders for that connection - time spent with the herbs each week in the gardens of my teacher and local farms. When my herbal teacher gave each of us students a large flat of different herb seedlings several weeks ago, I had no idea what I would do them, but resolved that some way, some how, I would grow those herbs. We have no outdoor space - no patio or deck or balcony for pots. Walking out our front door leads you straight into the parking lot. Then I remembered one of our herbal training field trips to an urban farm in Providence. The head of the farm showed us some of the raised beds he had built of out cinder blocks and sung their praises.
My light bulb went off and a cinder block planting bed was created in front of our space - high enough for the dogs to not do their business in the bed - and lots of beautiful fresh soil went in. Next went all the amazing medicinal herbs from my teacher, as well as some culinary herbs and beautiful flowers. The bed is about 3 ft by 8 ft, a good size for a city planter. All the plants and herbs are growing full and lush. Every time I walk out my door, I enjoy our mini-city garden. It may not be a sprawling garden overlooking idyllic ponds, but its just what I needed. It is part of the sacred work I must do in this lifetime - to tend, nurture and commune with mother nature - whether it is deep in the woods, by the ocean or in a city parking lot. She is all around us.