A Brief Look Back at 2020

I’m going to be another one of those with the cliché reflections on the past year. I can’t help it. It’s January 1st of 2021, the day we’ve been longing for. It seems like decades since we’ve been yearning for it. But it’s honestly only been a few months. Well, anywhere from 9-12 months depending on where you are in the world.

But still, it’s mostly been an inconvenience, except for the unfortunate, unlucky ones who have been sick, have lasting effects after “recovering,” or who have died. I am the first one to say that I’m tired of losing good people to the horrid consequences of COVID. I have friends who are now gone and I’ll never be able to hug them farewell or be able to articulate well enough to their families exactly what their passing means to me. The sadness. The frustration. The humiliation of their following every guideline and having it be for naught. And this doesn’t even consider what kind of year it’s been for healthcare workers.

The bad things added up to create in me a constant level of anxiety that I only recognized every now and then. Such as all the times I wandered into a room looking for something and had to pause to remember why I was there. Oh, you may think this is age and that everyone of my advanced years does it. But you’d be wrong! The 2020 Anxiety was the root cause. I know it.

The 2020 Anxiety made me antsy and I had trouble sometimes sitting still. Refusing to dwell on it, the energy was useful to achieve some of my gardening goals. I also used it to finally start The Negligent Gardener website.

The website has been a labor of love for the past six or eight months, and even a few people have enjoyed it. It’s been a therapy of sorts and I have a backlog of articles that are waiting to be written (I’ll get to them, I promise). I’ve met some incredibly interesting people online, especially on Gardening Twitter. If you are a gardener and haven’t discovered the Twitter gardening universe yet, I encourage you to take a look. A more supportive, fun, and sometimes crazy group of people you may never meet elsewhere.

My regular job in sales is about meeting in-person and following up with them usually over the phone. That was mostly put on hold since in-person meetings were non-existent and budgets for purchasing products were sometimes slashed. Time went on, anxiety grew, and I turned to the garden. And writing about my gardening successes and failures.

Having plants growing in the house and out in the yard really helped bring some sort of perspective to this crazy year that was 2020. It enforced a routine that proved that, with all the nonsensical things in the news, one plus one still added up to two.

This is what I mean. When you plant a seed, and give it the right amount of water, it sprouts. When you give the seedling the right amount of water, light, and nutrients, it grows strong. The plant may produce fruit and give you back nourishment. It may produce flowers that sustains your soul, and make people smile as they walk by.

It took three years, but I finally got one of my adeniums to bloom in 2020. Believe me, it’s not easy when your growing them indoors for nine months out of the year!

The oohs and aahs of my neighbors were the highlight of my summer when my gardens were in full bloom. Some of them even paused to enjoy the colors. I was hoping they enjoyed the weeds too but I’m not sure that was the case. It would usually happen in the evening after I had exhausted myself from the typical gardening chores.

My husband would always notice the lookie-loos, though. “Look, there’s another neighbor,” he’d say, “admiring your flowers.” Too often I’d lift my head and say something typical like, “Oh that’s good.” Looking back, I’m not sure it penetrated. I didn’t appreciate it. Didn’t feel the pride I should have felt. Instead I felt tired.

I know we all learned good and bad things from the past year. I learned that we have it darn good here in Montana as compared to other places. We have our problems, but I would have a hard time choosing to live anywhere else.

Photo courtesy of MontanaHistorian.com.

I learned that I’m more glad to be alive than I was several months ago. I wish and hope that other people have an increased sense of appreciation for their lives as well. We all have a time when we question our very reason for being on this earth and why we have to suffer through life’s trials. Again, my hope for 2021 is that time has proven for most of us that we can persevere and eventually feel like smiling again. Flowers can help with that. So can hot peppers right out of the garden, in my experience.

I ordered seeds about a week ago and I received confirmation that the first ones have shipped. These seeds will be a new endeavor for me. I’m growing them specifically for bonsai. Having been wanting to venture into that strange world for some time, I’ve never taken the plunge until now. I admit, maybe I’ll kill the sprouts, or the seeds won’t sprout at all. I don’t know.

What I do know is that with those seeds comes hope. Hope that my vision of a spectacular bonsai specimen will result from my own efforts, knowledge, and nurturing. I’m preemptively scolding myself not to be so negligent that they die before it’s time to prune and repot them (actions that would transform the young trees into a true bonsai).

The spruce that will be the object of my practice bonsai project.

With my brief look back, I choose, for now, to concentrate on the times I didn’t kill my seedlings. I’ll think of the times when my plants glowed happily in the sunshine as if to say thank you for taking such good care of me with your only slightly negligent ways.

I’ll choose to look forward to planting tree seeds that will be ready in a few years to actually look like something similar to bonsai. I’ll look forward to sharing my journey in my small indoor and outdoor gardens and encouraging people who I’ve never met to get their hands dirty and start their own gardening journey. To write their own story of success. A sunny east or south facing window should never be wasted. Even one plant would be happy to call that window home. Here’s wishing that in 2021, more of us invest in the hope that is a seed.

Let me know what you are looking forward to in 2021 in the comment section below.


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