The Sweetness of Patience

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.Ralph Waldo Emerson

The pace of life can be overwhelming at times. We live in an era when time is marked down in nanoseconds (billionths of a second). In the past I taught teachers about GPS, and I was often asked – how fast is a nanosecond? One light foot (the time it takes light to travel one foot) equals one nanosecond. Like the good tools they are, many of the nanosecond wonders of 21st Century technology make our lives easier. But being hyper-connected is unhealthy. The human mind needs to be unplugged in order to regenerate. Luckily, you don’t need wi-fi to connect with Nature.

Each seed is a tiny world waiting to be born. Late last winter, I unplugged from the pandemic and politics by preparing our gardens for planting. First I pulled weeds and composted the tattered remains of last year. After turning over the soil, I mixed in bags of composted cow manure. While mixing the soil, I found several hidden wonders that, like me, had survived the winter. Some garlic, taro and potatoes. Sleeping through the cold rainy days, these beauties patiently poked through the dirt days before spring. With all the disasters of the winter, I welcomed the joyous green shoots like returning friends.

When I first met my wife, I was surprised by how many vegetables she ate. I had only eaten her favorite – “greens” a few times before. She has introduced me to dozens of vegetables since our first meals together. Last fall when she left for China, I promised to plant her favorite vegetables before she returned. I patiently waited for months for her to tell me when she would be coming home. When the specter of the pandemic haunted me, I would look through our seed collection. Many types of Chinese vegetables are only for sale in Asian markets. So I planted a patch of different Chinese greens and watched over them – waiting to send photos of rows of lovely green sprouts.

Carrots are one of my favorite vegetables. So I planted two varieties near my other favorites – potatoes. Each day I steadily added to our potential vegetable bounty. Over the months alone, I was stricken by the near absence of color outside, except for sunrise and sunset. I created four flower beds, on each side of the entrances to our gardens. I wanted my wife to see the flowers each day upon her return to remind her how beautiful our life together can be. I tended the veggies, but ignored the small patch of carrots that managed to sprout. There beside their leafier Chinese neighbors a handful of scraggly carrot tops staked their claim to the sunshine.

When my wife returned, she was thrilled to see so many flowers, and familiar greens. I backed off from my daily tending of the garden to give her time to nurture and increase the bounty of our garden. As the summer days have begun to wane, I took note again of my little carrot patch, which had joined together into one massive two foot long half pound miracle. I called it Grandfather Carrot, because it looked like a face coming out of the dirt. I cautiously excavated Grandfather Carrot making sure not to damage his roots. What an incredible miracle of a veggie. When I cleaned and sliced the carrot, you could see growth rings where the fabulous plant had steadily grown through nearly two full seasons. We saved the top and roots and have started them re-growing. My wife seldom eats raw vegetables, because the water is not clean in China, and farmers use too many chemicals used. When we tasted Grandfather Carrot, we both agreed we had never had a sweeter carrot before. Just like love and life, they get sweeter over time with patience.

Published by cewheeler

Writer/Artist:12 years in China – univ. lecturer: writing,poetry,culture; editor – magazine/newspaper & actor. 40 years students of the Tao. Traveler. Father. Read my books at:

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