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Breaking New Ground

n my new apartment I’ve carved out a small space for a garden. I have a backyard that is smaller than a tent and out of it I dig out some grass along the wall, giving myself a two foot ribbon that gets just enough sun to grow things.

Tending that garden is the single loveliest part of my day. I sip my coffee or tea while standing outside my kitchen window, sprinkling the plants that grow fat and huge and unruly in front of my eyes. When they become crowded and threaten to overwhelm each other, I cut large bunches of Chamomile and Feverfew and hang them on my walls to dry, so I can make tea in the winter.

Every morning, ritualistically, I nibble on sprigs of chocolate mint. I crush the leaves of the Cleveland Sage in my hands and think no perfume in the world could smell as richly sweet. The first water on the hot soil in the summer mornings is heady with ozone and life. I can breathe out there. I can start the long process of healing.

Drinking the tea from the medicinal herbs is not nearly as effective as the growing of the plants themselves. Standing there watering, with the morning sun on my back, I slowly and almost imperceptibly feel my neck and shoulders relax. My tight forehead begins to unwind. My fortresses slowly, slowly, start to send their guards out for coffee breaks, and then lunch hours . . . and finally home to go rest for a while.

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