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The Briar Patch | Crying in the weeds

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This summer involved entering into the folds of the heat with a banged-up left knee from an injury that occurred in the spring. I wish I could say I was doing something heroic. Well, maybe I was. Getting a full night’s sleep during menopause sometimes feels that way. But I woke up with a 65-pound dog lying on top of my knee instead.

But still, I could work with it. As long as I could limp to the yard and be with the plants, I was good.

But then, crossing the threshold of summer involved going uphill with a wheelbarrow full of dirt.

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Strained my right biceps femoris.

Listen, I’m not the most precise massage therapist I know when it comes to anatomy terminology, but I got pretty darn close this time. Biceps femoris strain probably involving some posterolateral compartment — I suspect the iliotibial band.

All of sudden, I didn’t just have a knee injury, and that ish hurt much worse.

My sister tells me she never knows when I’m hurt, because I’m not one to emote much. I grew up working hard not to make too much of a fuss, so often I think I’m expressing pain too loudly. I think I’m screaming, but the world thinks I’m whispering.

I didn’t want to go outside anymore. Not to gather herbs with my herbalist friends, not into my own backyard. I did find a way to gently return to the garden with my friends, despite the pain. I desperately needed the community of women and plants. And to think, at the beginning of summer, I was excited about all the plans I made with my housemates for reinventing the yard, all the herbs I wanted to plant and to tend, the soil I wanted to cultivate to greater health.

I managed to plant two new fruit trees, a few currant and spice bushes, some pollinator-friendly plants and a few new herbs. This year, the elderberry bushes I planted in summer 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic produced berries for the first time. I’ll take it.

Because. It. Hurt. All. The. Time. Sometimes just thinking about going down the stairs to let my dog out made me tear up. Her favorite thing in the world is frisbee. We did a lot of frisbee runs in the yard, in lieu of walks this summer. Well, she did all the running.

After a while, I stopped caring about an explosion of bunny rabbits in the garden eating the baby plants. I actually found it sorta funny — given that my column is inspired by Br’er Rabbit. Mother Nature clearly has jokes.

Interestingly though, I continued to massage clients, a form of therapy for me, a way to keep moving. I got massages and massaged my own knees and hamstrings and legs and ankles and low back as much as I could stand the pain.

And the plants kept on growing, despite my lack of interest. The garden that my housemates tend is coming into its own.

I woke up one morning several weeks into this thing, and my sacrum was hurting. Angry and frustrated, I knew I was done. Said to myself, “Welp, second chakra, center of creativity. And I’ve had enough. I’m not doing this.”

Recalling how much I enjoyed the infrared therapy light at my acupuncturist, I took the opportunity to book an appointment at a new wellness spot in Beavercreek that had an infrared sauna, and immediately booked an appointment for that morning. Was there in an hour. Got into the sauna, sweated and ugly-cried for 45 minutes, got out, took a shower, headed home and I kid you not, could walk down a flight of stairs, pain-free, for the first time in weeks.

A week later, believing I was healed, I had the courage to face the overgrowth. Weeds several feet high, surrounding the baby trees I’d planted that were still thriving. But as I started pulling and digging and tugging, the reality of my physical limitations set in — I was out of shape and fearful that I’d reinjure myself, and it all seemed so hopeless. I felt like I was failing the plants, not being a good steward, and in that moment, I felt so alone.

I sat in the weeds where no one would see me and cried.

But something in the denseness of the brush sounded like the words, “We missed you.” Maybe not words, maybe emotion, maybe vibration, I can’t quite describe it.

I held so much in, and I recognized in that moment that there are few places I feel safe. The garden, one of those places, is a sanctuary for me.

Last weekend, I straightened the patio, and for the first time all summer, put the umbrellas up. It’s three or four months late, but I’m outside again, loving on the plants, who seem to have waited for me all summer.

It’s nice to be among my friends again.

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3 Responses to “The Briar Patch | Crying in the weeds”

  1. Jean W. says:

    Yes, I have tried it. The tea tastes a lot like other mint tea and because it doesn’t have caffeine can be soothing. What cats may find excitable seems to have the opposite effect on some people. Very easy to grow and harvest.

  2. Boze Katt says:

    I have been doing some research and looking for alternatives for pain relief and sleep promotion that don’t produce dramatic highs. Oddly enough, it seems that humans can and do use good old catnip, which is mighty easy to grow and dry out for tea. I wonder if anyone has ever tried this common herb for medicinal use? Here is a link to one bit of useful info I found. Thank you for any response. I am going to try it myself.

  3. Tulsa says:

    “No Mud; No Lotus.” Glad you are better. Take care. ((Peace))

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