Small pockets of joy are all around us. These trying times could have been dismal, except for those lucky enough to live in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s springtime.

One pocket of joy came in March when there was no boys high school basketball tournament, so we had no boys basketball tournament weekend blizzard. I’m pretty sure those two things are connected.

By the middle of this month, we should be able to move everything green we’ve started in our houses, basements and greenhouses outside without fear of killing frost. SHOULD be able to….

For us gardeners, there is no need to worry about social distancing. Gardening has always been something of an isolationist’s hobby. Many is the time I’ve invited Lar to join me in the garden for a rousing weeding party, and many is the time I partied alone with just the weeds for company.

This year, if he wants to go to a weeding party, it won’t be with me or my plants; we’re practicing social distancing in a big way by ourselves.

When Lar and I got back from our vacation, I went solitarily to the basement to start seeds. I gave them all a pep talk to grow as I placed them in the pots, so it’s not like I was really alone. I was alone with the sound of my own voice, I guess, though I swear I heard those seeds cheering, too.

That brings us to mental health aspects of gardening.

I’ve said it before, and it’s still true. The best thing you can do for your mental stability is to plant carrot seeds. They are so tiny, they require total mental focus. They should go into the ground this month. This focus requires blocking out all other thoughts, including those of dismay and discontent.

Then comes the weeding and thinning of carrot seeds. Again, it requires total focus. Even if you don’t like carrots, I recommend carrot-growing for all of us incarcerated – er – isolated.

Planting carrot seeds requires that you live in the moment, lest those seeds get planted too close together and can’t grow for the crowding. I once heard of ways to plant carrots using a paste made of flour and water, then placing one seed every few inches along a strip of toilet paper with the paste holding the seed in place, then planting the toilet paper in the garden.

This year, the TP is likely too expensive a commodity to use for gardening, so we’ll need to just pay attention to our seeds.

There is another pocket of joy created by these times – graduation night TP-ing of houses and trees will not likely occur.

And another pocket of joy comes when we grow and eat our own produce. We’ll have a grocery store in our own backyard, so to speak. We’ll know how it was grown, if it was treated with chemicals, and what variety turns out to be our favorite.

This last part has always been a joy for me, so it’s not an unexpected pocket of same.

I’ve always known the joy of a sun-warmed, sun-ripened tomato. An eggplant fresh from the vine, and fresh carrots.

I do love carrots, but the joy I get from them is not so much in the eating of them as in the growing of them.

Maybe my mental health is that fragile, but aren’t we all that fragile right now?

Naw – we’re enjoying our time with family, pets and plants. And in the interest of mental health, I may allow Lar back among my garden plants and beds.

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