Little events can present us with strong messages. I was touring a community garden at Medford Leas, a continuing care retirement community in southern New Jersey, with a friend who is a nurse at a PA hospital. It was Saturday morning and the August heat was creeping towards the 90’s. There were a few people working in their gardens tending to their community garden plots.
The month of August can be a tough time in the garden. We either have too little rain or too much. This is the year of a lot of rain, all through June and July. And, as a result, the weeds are out of control. Plugging away was one gentleman diligently pulling weeds that were threatening the health of the tomatoes, peppers and other plants in this 20′ x 20′ space.
We struck up a conversation with this gentleman. It is always good to talk and share stories. You can learn something new. However, this time, it was not about how best to ‘naturally’ keep bugs from eating the vegetables or other gardening hints. It was, instead, a reminder why gardening is good for all of us. We were surprised to learn that this gardener was 90 years of age. He did not look a day over 80, for sure. His youthful appearance and activities were that of a person who is in very good shape.
His working in the garden reinforces all of the things we have been talking about. Gardening is great exercise and keeps us in shape. We remain socially connected when we are involved in activities with other people. Natural absorption of vitamin D, balancing our circadian rhythms, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and many other positive aspects of gardening remind us that we need to get outside and play in the soil as often as possible. I could use the help of this young gardener in my own community garden!