Choosing my soil

“People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.” ~Plato

It’s that time of year when plants and soil and gardening are very much on my mind as the spring blooms begin to erupt and I begin to plan for gardening season. In fact, just today my first tulips bloomed in the yard and I discovered new flowers on two of my pond plants. Both plants had finished their blooming season by the time I moved in last year, so these blooms were a delightful surprise.

As I consider the spots in the yard where I need to replace plants or where I wish to add new ones, I have to consider the conditions at each spot to determine which plants may be best suited. The amount of sun or shade varies greatly in the yard. I need to test the soil to determine whether some area are more acidic than others. Acidic soil matters for azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies, and hydrangeas, and I may need to treat the soil around those plants to make sure the pH is sufficiently low. Other plants, like irises, chrysanthemums, dianthus, and zinnias do better in more basic soils. There’s also the amount of moisture in different areas that can make a difference, not to mention the soil types. Does a plant do best in clay soils or sandy soils? It’s a lot to consider. Each set of conditions has plants that thrive in it, and each has plants that will wither under those conditions. The trick is pairing the conditions and plants optimally.

This year the idea of planting has an even greater meaning for me. So much has changed for me in the last year that has left me uprooted in so many ways. I suspect the storms of change and upheaval are not done with me yet, but I am beginning to start to think of what it will be like to reach a point in time where I can be replanted in a new place to begin growing new roots.

As I think in terms of where I might wind up and what I might look for in whatever place (physically and metaphorically) that I might settle, one of the key things that will matter in determining whether any given place is a location where I can put down roots is the people who will surround me. I want a community that will welcome and support me. I need a tribe of my own to be my anchor.

As Plato says, the people I choose to surround myself with in any given place where I might settle will be the soil that will either nourish my growth or cause me to wither and wilt. While some number of nourishing people (for me) can likely be found anywhere, there are obviously some places where that might be easier to find than others. Some kinds of community, religious groups, cultural leanings, and political preferences are more likely to attract the kinds of people who best suit my “plant type” than others.

Unlike plants who must try to do their best with wherever they are planted, I have the ability to choose where I wish to plant myself. While I am not advocating closing myself off to anyone who doesn’t fit a preset list of criteria, I do think that having a clear idea of the kind of people who help me thrive when I spend time with them will be helpful as I seek to find my tribe of people. It will keep me from settling into any patch of soil I can find out of a desperation to grow roots. With a blank slate to start over with, it’s a great opportunity to take the time and care to make careful, considered choices as I move forward.

It may not yet be time for me to be planted, but as I think about the plants I am placing in my yard this year, it’s a wonderful opportunity to begin considering the kind of soil I hope to find. Then when the time does come, I’ll know what I’m looking for.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.


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  1. Pingback: Soil an Understanding | Suburbhomestead's Blog

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