As I look out to my garden
I feel a sense of pride
It really is a lovely room
Except it is outside.
— Marie Church

I grew up in Michigan so I spent my summers outside swimming in lakes and pools, hiking through green forests with my dad, and chasing fireflies at night. Then, at 21, after graduating from University of Michigan, I packed up my mother’s Buick LeSabre that was my graduation present, and drove out west to California. California living is almost ALL outdoors ALL year round. It’s where I feel most alive and connected to life.

Most of the women I know on the California Central Coast have green thumbs. They’re gardening year round. California gardens are marked by diversity and complexity. There are so many micro climates in California that you need a textbook to understand your soil, planting cycles, pest control, and watering requirements for each particular region. I imagine where you live it is the same learning curve. I’ve finally adapted my garden to the cool, foggy mornings and intensely sunny afternoons, and don’t get me started about those pesky gophers! I have literally watched a mature tomato plant start shaking and then get sucked down into the ground by a gopher. Urgh!!! Needless to say, I learned how to trap gophers (and I’m the person who cups her hand around a spider and gently takes it outside to let it go) and actually killed 14 gophers that first year. Now, I have 3 raised beds that my husband built for me, but the plants are still not immune to critters or birds… I try to focus on the joy and feeling of accomplishment I get every time I take a bite out of a sweet, juicy tomato, or sprinkle chopped basil on a plate of pasta. It’s all worth it…

The Art of Sensual Living: 7 Lifestyle Secrets

1 – Healthy Eating

2 – Body Movement

3 – Self-Image Fitness

4 – Gardening & Outdoor Activities

5 – Inner State of Mind

6 -The Arts (Anything That Expands Your Consciousness)

7 – Life Balance

Why do I consider Gardening & Outdoor Activities sensual?

Because I think being outdoors is very sexy! I love the look of lightly glistening skin (wear your sunscreen!), dirt underneath fingernails, shorts & tank tops (get some sun on those legs!), hiking shoes with thick socks rolled down, and a wide-rimmed hat. Plus, gardening is good for the soul. Look what it produces!

A garden slows you down. A garden focuses your attention on the life force of the soil, nutrients, leaves, flowers, support structures, watering systems, and critters seeking to eat it. A garden makes no promises, but makes you wait with great anticipation for what is about to come.

There are no guarantees. You simply have to work, wait, and hope everything happens as planned. Sometimes plans don’t unfold like you thought, and you get nothing. Other times your wildest hopes and dreams are exceeded with great bounty! You just never know. It’s life. You DO your best, HOPE (and EXPECT) for the best, and then ROLL with the outcome.

Here are some photos of my gardens over the years:

This was a few years ago, right after we built the raised beds. The mushroom compost soil was rich and fresh, and poured forth a bounty of vegetables!!

One of my winter crops — cabbage I believe…with some thyme growing next to it. You can see the “attractive” chicken wire fence here, which was quickly erected after we discovered our DOGS (yes, you read that right) up on the raised beds GRAZING on our green beans and tomatoes earlier that summer. URGH!!! So, it wasn’t the bunny rabbits or deer or birds eating our garden, it was our Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs snacking away on our hard work. As if we didn’t feed them enough….

This is me holding wire cutters to take down the ugly chicken wire and begin building a beautiful wooden fence around the garden…stay tuned for that!

Sometimes I get my husband into the act. I think we were cleaning up the late summer plants, getting ready to prepare the soil for fall/winter planting. I love watching my husband work in the garden…SEXY!!!

This is one of our tomato pickings — we plant a variety of plants, including heirlooms. My favorite all-time tomato is Green Zebra (on the left). Sweet, dark, deep, mysterious, and juicy!!!

What takes you outdoors in the summertime?

What do you LOVE about it?

How does it nurture your soul?