I did it. I took my doctor’s advice and took it easy. What a difference a few hours make. I have a few things to write and edits to do this weekend, but someone in my community garden posted the following status on Facebook: “Today is so beautiful, it feels like all the other beautiful days were only a rehearsal.”

That motivated me to pull myself out from under my laptop and doldrums, pack up my ridiculously large garden hat and head to the garden. I always feel better, no matter how stressed out I am that day.

I feel calmer and more refreshed, and I do feel like everything’s going to be OK. Sitting on the sun-warmed bricks and clearing the weeds from the garden path for a little bit did me a world of good.

I did manage to take it easy for a few days, and I went to Southampton for a friend’s art opening last weekend with another of her friends. The three of us marveled at the fresh air. I love New York City—it’s my favorite place on earth. But sometimes, you just don’t know what you’re going to get when you breathe in. Sometimes it’s the delightful scent of Linden trees on a summer breeze and other times, it’s just hot garbage. These smells co-exist in such small spaces and change from block to block. I crossed the Gowanus Canal on a hot day, when it smells like the chemical stew of a Superfund site that it is, and once I reached the other side, it smelled like a cinnamon pastry.

The smell inconsistency doesn’t usually bother me, but there is something to be said for the smell of flowers and freshly-mown lawn.

Today, I realized that it is possible to find those same smells—you just have to be close enough to the ground. The lawn smell came from the grass I pulled up. I weeded near basil and tomatoes, which made me yearn for a pizza or Caprese salad, even though I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes. (I know, I know. I think George Carlin once put my feelings about tomatoes into words most eloquently; skip to a few minutes before the end.) The garden offered smells of mint, cilantro, rosemary and countless other flowers, as well as that summer scent of dirt and sun.

And then there’s the song of birds and the buzz of bees—plus the sirens and honk of horns. It is, after all, Brooklyn. But it did my soul some good.

I’ve said it before: Whenever I garden, I never wish I’d spent my time any other way.


  1. Kim S.A. says:

    Beautiful blog and post! Thanks for writing about your journey. So often the emotional effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment are ignored.

    So glad to hear the PET results were good. You are feeling the cumulative effects–mental and physical–so you’re in a tough stretch. Be good to yourself!!

  2. Renn says:

    Just found your blog and have added you to mine. I’m so, so sorry that you are going through all this cancer $#@%. I admire your attitude (and am a long-time fan of your writing). I’m following you on Twitter and am about to head to Facebook to send you an email. Keep taking it easy. That is the best self advice! 😉 I’ll check in again soon.

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