Everything in life is cyclical. As a gardener, I know this oh so well. Just yesterday my general contractor buddy William Rogers was asking me about the difference between annuals and perennials. I explained that Annuals grow from seed, are established, and live their entire life cycle in a single year. Sometimes they’ll weather over and last for several years. When that happens it is primarily because those plants aren’t true annuals. They are perennials disguised as annuals.
Perennial plants, on the other hand, are plants that typically grow, and last, for a minimum of 3 years. They bloom for a season, then survive a couple of more seasons doing minimally okay, but they do last. These are the kinds of plants we typically do our ornamental landscaping with.
Then there are biennial plants. These plants take an entire year to develop, then they bloom only every other year. Plants like Fox Gloves, Trillium and Holly Hocks are all biennial. You might also like to know that cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, carrots, and even celery are biennials. We typically harvest these plants and eat them in their first season, which is why we never see their flowers.
I share this with you because as a gardening philosopher I see all of life as cyclical. Our moods and feelings shift just like the weather. I once remember Tiffanie saying that Oregon, with it’s gloomy, wet, foggy, and overcast weather, was the suicide capitol of the US. I thought , yeah, I could see that! Then I Googled it and found this was not actually the case. Oregon was merely number 12, not number 1. How could that be? All of the rain and overcast gloom, there has to be something to it right? There must be some connection between depression and the weather. As it turns out, there is. Take a look at this information from Wikipedia…
“Environment variables, such as the amount of sunlight, occurrence of natural disasters, and the inability to protect and shelter oneself, can result in suicidal behaviors”. Parasuicide, which is the strongest known indicator for a future successful suicide attempt, is known to have a strong association with weather patterns. As noted by Barker in their 1994 article on seasonal and weather factors in parasuicide, “A major finding of this study was…the greatest mean daily number of parasuicide episodes in late spring/early summer and a trough in December/January”. Their approach involved developing a linear model to accurately separate any “seasonal effects and seasonally-related weather effects”. Climate factors affect parasuicide differently in women and men. The data indicated that the meteorological factors to account for large parasuicidal effects in women were maximum temperature, rainfall, and cloud cover. On the other hand, rain, cloud cover, poor visibility, and windy days were the most important meteorological factors in men. These findings state that elevated levels of environmental heat have been known to “produce thermal stress causing physiological and behavioral change, which may predispose a person to parasuicidal behavior, or precipitate parasuicide in someone already considering it”.
Translation… weather does affect our mood. Throw in the holiday season and it is affected even more. We need to find a way deal with those feelings. I spend a lot of time thinking. It’s one of the reasons I so enjoy gardening. For me, gardening is a moving and productive meditation. It allows me to float, and allows my thoughts to remain fluid, drifting in and out as they please. It also allows me to move and keep my endorphin production going. I’ve used gardening and landscaping as my medicine when I first lost my dad 20 years ago.
My last blog talked about him and I paid homage in my own way to his memory and legacy. My topic for this week is the season of abundance and I’m talking about how things are cyclical because It’s what I notice in both nature and society. Duhh, we’re all from nature and we all make up this society. I share my thoughts so that others can also relate and know that they are not alone.
Just like the plants that I mentioned have various growth stages and cycles in which they produce , we as humans experience a similar shift according to our environment. I’m no meteorologist or psychologist but I do enjoy researching and learning about the ways in which nature affects us all. I spend most of my life teaching and creating in the realm of beautiful outdoor living spaces.
It has been said that cleanliness is next to godliness and I mean who doesn’t enjoy an aesthetically pleasing space? I know I feel best when things are clean, neat and organized. I also enjoy the process of designing, working, building, and creating so that we can get there. The journey is part of the fun.
So I encourage you in this season of Christmas and abundance.
Take note of what you’re thankful for.
Do something nice for someone else, something that contributes, something that “gives”.
I know it’s cold and snowy in some places, so give thanks that you have a warm and cozy house to call your home.
Maybe you have extra blankets and clothes that you can donate to the homeless or less fortunate. The best way to step up out of your depression during this holiday season is to give to others.
This has nothing to do with shopping at Target or buying people gifts. We all have an abundance. We need to merely skim off some of our excess and create balance with nature. There’s a cyclical time for everything, just look at her.
She is our greatest teacher.