Gardening lessons: Planting hope and harvesting peace of mind

“Gratitude must smell, if it has a smell, of rain-soaked earth,” the late Guatemalan Nobel Prize-winning novelist Miguel Ángel Asturias once wrote. Asturias’ musings on gratitude remind me of my grandmother, who was born in 1912 in a farming village in the Carpathian Mountains forming the border between modern-day Slovakia and Poland. It was a country childhood in a place of incredible natural beauty and was her life’s formative experience, instilling in her a lifelong love of the land.

She immigrated to America in 1921, and her family settled in a mining and railroad town in northeastern Pennsylvania. After marrying, she raised her own family in New York’s Southern Tier beginning in the mid-1930s.

I remember her most in early summer, when the Northeast’s backyard gardens start bursting with life. Her garden was the earliest wild place of my life. It was her sanctuary, where she harvested peace of mind.