Loving what is

A dear friend of mine says that "inner peace" comes from loving what is. If that is true, and I believe it is, then I am living a life of inner peace, loving this glorious spring and early summer season in Ashland. I am enjoying the moment, each moment, in our garden and beyond.

In the mornings, I awake looking forward to time in our garden: clipping back spent marigolds, daisies and dahlias, snipping fresh basil to make pesto, harvesting our first zucchini from a burgeoning plant, and always weeding, weeding, weeding.

I never thought I'd enjoy getting my fingernails dirty, but such garden chores are reconnecting me with nature. It's a process of getting rooted back to the earth — digging in the dirt, if you will — and realizing with great appreciation how it enriches our lives and how it feeds and nurtures both our bodies and our souls.

I am filled with a sense of awe as I go about these garden chores.

Bending down to touch a peony blossom, I bow deeply to its beauty. A mass of pale pink petals unfurls from a deep pink core. Swaying in the breeze, it brushes a neighboring peony — a lovely magenta lady — as if inviting it to dance. In unison, they bob and bow, dancing to the music of the wind.

A dogwood tree greets me as I round the corner toward the vegetable garden. Its pink blossoms, cradled in leaves of chartreuse, make me sigh in wonder. I want to paint that tree. I want to capture its loveliness in watercolor so I might recall it in the winter months when the same tree will be but a skeleton of branches, its bones barren of foliage and flowers.

In the vegetable garden, I pull a clump of green garlic, stems yellowing and flopping in the hot sun. They pull out easily, rich soil clinging to roots. I marvel that these tiny bulbs can impart such intensity to our foods, enriching much of what we eat, from complex cuisines served up in the finest restaurants around the world to a simple sauté of zucchini as I will prepare tonight.

Later, in the strawberry patch, straddling a row of bushes planted high, I pluck nature's perfection — red, plump strawberries ripening in the sun. Into the bucket I gently toss berry after berry, little globes of sweet juicy delight.

Perhaps more so than anything else in our garden, it is the strawberry patch that nurtures this feeling of inner peace. I breathe deeply that earthy, sweet scent — a rich mixture of warm dirt and ripening, nearly fermenting, fruit — and realize why this king of all berries has become a metaphor for the good life.

Back in the kitchen, I wash and hull a bucket load of those red gems, and leave them to macerate in their juices for tonight's dessert: angel food cake, mounded with sweet, tender strawberries, and topped off with a dollop of whipped cream.

Then, in the morning, we'll start the day with waffles piled high with berries, their juices running red rivers through creamy white yogurt. Who needs maple syrup!

Lunch usually concludes with luscious bites of the royal fruit, and an afternoon snack of those same sweet berries over cottage cheese fuels us up for more weeding in the garden.

Yes, strawberries represent my life these days. It is a good life. In this lovely town of Ashland, I am surrounded by beauty and abundance. I relish all it has to offer, and give thanks for these moments, this state of inner peace I have not known before in my life.

Paula Fox is a retired professional writer and editor. She and her husband, Tod Brannan, recently moved to Ashland from Berkeley, Calif.

Rogue Valley residents are invited to submit 600 to 700 word articles on all aspects of inner peace to

Sally McKirgan innerpeaceforyou@live.com. The Inner Peace Community Blog is available for an inner peace moment every day.

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