Cultivating Comfort in the Garden

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Ta-dahhh… Spring has arrived with all the telltale signs. The cherry trees are popping pink buds. I’ve seen a bunny or two in my very wet backyard, and my dog, Olive, is suddenly shedding pounds of fur that I strategically leave in the grass for the birds to use as insulation and accessory for their new nests.

On the human side, the hustle and bustle of nesting activities is also evident in the overflowing yard waste bins that now line the street. What primitive, transformation-seeking gardening reflex is evoked with a slight rise in temperature and more daylight? 

If you’re not a gardener, you may just shake your head and smile as you take the cover off your grill, pour a glass of wine and be done with your seasonal preparations. For the rest of us, who are fervently answering the call to plunge our hands in dirt, deadhead spent blossoms and prune everything in sight, it’s the garden zombie apocalypse!

I pass by neighbors who are lost in a trance of manic weeding for hours on end. When they finally trudge to the street dragging a heavy yard waste bin, the fog of amnesia lifts. They pause, stand tall for the first time all day and then remember the back spasm that happened last year when they rushed to get it all done at once. Ouch! History has repeated itself. The question is: How do we moderns answer this ancient call without the requisite sacrifice of flesh?

It’s simple. We need to train in advance. Just as a cyclist begins the season with short warm up rides before tackling a 70-mile trek, we need to practice kneeling, bending, twisting and crawling on all fours, weeks before we plunge into a marathon day of zombie gardening. It’s an athletic endeavor. When we view it as such that also means that we take breaks, hydrate, even stretch a little before and after. We can smile while rolling around on the floor practicing recuperative movements to counteract a day of forward bending.

Good news! Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® classes are designed to do just this. In any given series, novices and seasoned movers and shakers will find endless ways to put the “fun” in function and get ready for a summer of earthly delights. Non-gardeners may discover new ways to stand more comfortably while grilling burgers and develop the flexibility to bring an ice-cold beverage to their lips, without repetitive stress.

In the meantime… Slow and steady, fellow zombies! Pause. Invest in a class series. Walk around your garden and dream of plant selections. Be on the lookout for Swanson’s discount coupons. Buy compost. Sharpen your tools and start collecting recipes for zucchini bread before you plant.