Danielle Shields Photography

Danielle Shields Photography


There is a moment in the morning. It is not long. After whatever version of waking up we had (with two small children this varies, a lot), eating breakfast together and our beautifully necessary coffee making ritual, I will take a moment. I sneak away. Actually its not very sneaky and my husband knows my code words, “Im just going to go check how everything is doing”. I slip on my boots or go barefoot through the dew laden grass. The cool damp morning air hits me as I walk across the concrete slab and into my space.

My haven. My sacred ground. I can hear the early morning birds singing sweet songs of freshness of the day, the gentle stir of the wind chimes, and all the other things fade away. I am in my green space. I wave my hand over the lavender bush and smell the sweet fragrance. My gaze moves out to the furthest point in my yard where I see my beehive begin to stir, the morning light a cue to the ladies to begin their day as well. My heart lifts as I observe new flowers opened, new leaves have grown, new life has set forth. Naturally I navigate to the garden, the pride and joy of this space of mine. It is not large by any means but what I can manage on the stoney limestone bedrock that I have for land. But the space has grown, and every year I add more slowly making it more and more a haven for me as well as the natural world. And it is my own. Everything here I have planted with my own hands. When we bought our house the yard was a box, empty save a rusty laundry line and some buried hose and landscaping bags. Now there is a raspberry patch, and blueberry bushes, a five-hundred square foot garden and a few perennial ornamentals. This year I added a flower bed border around the garden space. Our fire pit, sandbox, and yard space along with the apiary round out the rest. 

As I step past the newly fashioned fence I can see every bed laid out one after another; the herbs are first, pillared by rosebushes. The cilantro has gone to seed and the sage is just sending out new side branches covered with soft velvety leaves. Next is the Greens, with rows of neat lettuces, cole crops with radish and kale changing the textures. An empty bed which will hold the last warm season crops to go in - melons, squash and cucumbers. I look on to the next, the Nightshades with newly planted tomatoes and peppers, then the Roots with feather carrot tops and red-veined beet leaves.

I am renewed.

I breathe in as I survey the A-frame structure pea shoots are climbing up with their delicate tendrils reaching skyward. Everything has grown. It isn't much, but I take notice of it. I pull a weed or two from between the garlic and mentally take note of what I'd like to accomplish today, or sometime this week. But before getting to the garden work, I take these morning moments to observe it, to give it love and thank my Creator for a healthy body and mind to sustain it. I feel oneness with the Divine when I am here. My heart is lifted, taking these steps in the garden, harvesting some special item for the first time this season, or taking note of a new flower that has brought with it new pollinators. 

Sometimes I don't get back out into the garden for the rest of the day. Sometimes I am able to spend hours in it. Whichever is the case, it is so valuable for me to start my day with something so special, so grounding in the truest sense of the word. Feel nature, hear nature, be in awe of nature.

And invite it to continue to thrive.   

dill head emerging

dill head emerging

Janelle Hillman