One of the unexpected perks of gardening is that your relationship to weather is likely to change. Things that you never really thought about, or only thought about superficially, gain importance in the mind. A new awareness of weather emerges. This is one of the less obvious ways that gardening makes us more connected to the world, and it can really change how we move through life.
Take rain, for instance. We are in the beginning of the rainy season here in Okinawa, which can last for a month or more. Last year, it seemed to rain almost every day even well beyond the end of the rainy season, which is perhaps one of the effects of climate change.
Constant rain spells gloom and a sense of being trapped indoors for many, if not most people. People start feeling down, and some may even lapse into a sort of depression if they don’t manage their emotions. The rain seems like little more than a nuisance in such cases- beyond the necessary amount, what good does it do? The rain only ruins one’s day.
But if you grow plants outdoors, you have to water them when it doesn’t rain. For those of us who don’t have a rainwater storage system installed in our homes(most renters don’t), and don’t have an irrigation system installed, we have to lug around the watering can or hose. And worry about how the chlorine in the hose water will affect the plants.
The rain does all our work for us, and we don’t have to worry about injuring our plants with chlorine. The rain inundates everything, gives a thorough, gentle soaking. We don’t need to do anything. Once the rainy season comes to an end, I must steel myself for the days of watering by hand in hot, humid conditions. Not my favorite kind of weather, but the swarms of mosquitoes that accompany me for the task love it. A few days of this and the memory of all that sweet, free rain seems but a dream.
But for now, the rainy season is still upon us, and it gives me more leisure time. I can relax and check on the ti and hibiscus cuttings that look like they are happily rooting thanks to the predominantly rainy days. I know that the mulch around the plants will be breaking down more quickly because of the moisture, releasing vital nutrients in a form that roots can uptake. Instead of feeling irritation at all the wet days, I feel real joy and gratitude that the water of life is flowing freely from the skies. Now when I hear the rain, I think “Yes! The plants will be happy!” You know what happy plants mean- a happy gardener.
With a bit of thought, planning, and investment in rain storage, we can take this a step further and provide water security for times when we are less blessed with rain. Right now, I can only imagine how good it would feel to know that not only plants, but ourselves, are getting the water we need when it rains.