Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, December 26, 2008

Revisiting~~Away From The Garden

 Crocus Spring 2008
My dear friends,

I hope you are continuing to have a wonderful holiday.  Mine has been delightful.  We're having so much fun visiting with our son that I've decided to take  a little more time to spend with him.  There is also a weather rumor...temperatures near 70 degrees.   You know,  there is no way any gardener would pass up this kind of opportunity to garden at the end of December!  The  Wayback  and  the Garden of Benign Neglect are calling my name. 

The following is one of my earlier posts.  It was written in the middle of my Mom's illness, when I was making weekly trips to St. Louis.  It's one of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy it. 
 
Take care, have a fantastic week and I'll see you very soon!  Gail

I've been away from the garden more than I want to be.

I missed being here, you might even say I needed to be in the garden. It grounds me, nourishes me, relaxes me. It is part of the rhythm of my life. In the winter I read about gardening, not just the garden catalogs, but books about wildflowers and perennials. Gardening is a passion....right there at the top of the list of musts ...I must have time with my husband, I must talk with my son each week, I must have a walk every day, I must have time in the garden...

I do work, but my office is in my home. So, I can visit the garden any time. Out the door, down the steps and walk about, weeding here and there.... looking for what has newly bloomed. Back inside, put the kettle on for tea and get ready for the next client.

My therapy clients pass through the front garden to get to my office. Sometimes we have a session on the screened porch. They tell me that they love the garden. They say it's a peaceful place, a safe place. I hope it is, it's important to me that they feel safe, that they find peace and a place to begin their healing process.



Gardens heal...and for people in pain, stopping to look at a daffodil in bloom
 

or a vignette of colorful flowers can be soothing.
There are clients who just march in and don't stop to look. There are a few who arrive early and spend time looking around. Then there are the folks who stop and look around as they are leaving, asking me about the plants. Some of my clients have plants from the garden, I always share...everyone needs a garden.

I didn't plan this to be a healing garden or even a therapy garden; it's just my garden. The garden that provides joy for me, that is a part of the rhythm of my life. I'd like to believe that the garden helps my clients. There is research that suggests that even a short period of time sitting in nature or looking at photos of nature relieves stress.

Gardeners know this is true...we experience it every day...even when we are so frustrated we could scream; our bodies and minds quiet in the garden. Our breathing slows down, our muscles relax and we can breath deeper.

But scientists and researches won't take our word for it! They want to know how this is possible! "One theory, the biophilia hypothesis, suggests that physiological responses to certain natural environments are the result of evolutionary encoding in our genes. According to this hypothesis, environments that supported survival of our ancestors (such as those with lush vegetation and water) were encoded as visually attractive and produced a relaxation response." (Minnesota Medicine)

In other words, at the core of our being we a have a deeply rooted link to nature, a spiritual connection to wellness and wholeness.

To test their hypothesis, scientists set up studies that deliberately stressed participants. They discovered that measures of stress levels (heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension) all return to normal within minutes of being in a natural setting or looking at a photo of a natural setting. The same individuals experienced positive feelings, less fear and aggression.

No wonder gardens are being developed at hospitals, rehab centers and nursing homes. People get better...this is wonderful news in cases were over active stress responses make their conditions worse. Sitting in the garden can lift their spirits, aid their healing...

We know this.  We don't need a researcher to tell us that our gardens ground and nourish. We feel safe, relaxed, joyful and playful. Our gardens are places where we can let go of dis-ease.

Gail

I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to.   ~Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

63 comments:

  1. A very apt post. Gardens do heal and are soothing. It is strange you would have even one client to not stop and look around at your beautiful garden.

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  2. Gail,

    Beautiful post. Thank you for posting it again for those of us who joined Blotanical after the original posting.

    Enjoy your time with your family.

    Cameron

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  3. Tina,

    Hey there...we must be the only folks up in the blogasphere this morning! One client that I have seen on and off for many years, has seen this garden evolve and almost always knows what I've added or subtracted!

    More rain is coming and warmer temps. I sure wanted to get outside and garden.

    Gail

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  4. Cameron,

    Hi...they are all sleeping and it began raining s I am here to say hello and thank you for stopping by. Glad you liked the post...it was during a particularly difficult time for me, my mother was very ill and I was away a lot.

    Hope your weekend is filled with gardening.

    Gail

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  5. I used to think it was the same trait that made people desire order and beauty inside their homes. Now I wonder because I know many people with fabulously decorated homes that dislike the outdoors.
    Marnie

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  6. Marnie,

    My mother disliked the outdoors...completely...she preferred air conditioning to fresh air. She loved decorating her small apartment at her retirement community! I would love to see how she might have effected the study and if her blood pressure would lower or rise! gail

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  7. Gail, this was a lovely post. One I had not read, so thank you for re-posting it. I agree that time spent in the garden is good for the soul.

    So happy you are getting to spend more time with your son. Enjoy!

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  8. I wonder if this is why some people get so sad during winter when it is difficult or impossible to be outside. I would certainly feel bad if I didn't get out every day.

    I hope you are having a great time with your Son and family.

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  9. A beautiful post, Gail. I feel my spirit lift just looking at those darling crocuses! Enjoy your visit!

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  10. Hi Gail, I'm glad you re-posted this since I've only recently joined Blotanical. I wholeheartedly agree with you! Jan

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  11. A lovely post, Gail. Enjoy your precious moments and Happy New Year!

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  12. Another thank you from Texas, Gail, for reposting this lovely meditation on how gardens help us heal... I missed it the first time, too.

    Have fun with the chaos - "dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!"

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  13. This is a lovely post Gail. Thanks for sharing it again. I hope your Christmas was very happy and everyone is well, cats and dogs included. I miss you! Another good thing about returning to the US.

    Love you...

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  14. I'm glad you reposted this Gail since I had never read this lovely post before. A garden is definitely a wonderful form of therapy for you & your clients. Enjoy your time with your family!

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  15. That is absolutely right. I always say I feel so much closer to God when I'm in my garden. I feel like I'm working hand in hand with Him.

    I hope you've been having wonderful Christmas days with your family and friends, Gail. Blessings to you in the coming year as well!

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  16. I'm glad posted this again for us to enjoy Gail. It's so very true. I always feel better after spending time in the garden. In fact, today while the wind was howling and snow was falling I was wishing I could sit outside with the flowers and sunshine. But those things will come again...

    Amy

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  17. I'm glad I got to read this thanks. Some people just don't get it, about a garden. It's just a special place!!

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  18. Morning Darla,

    You are so right...they just don't get it...it's hard for me to understand...but to be fair, I don't get activities that lots of people love! My best friend loves board games...not for me! Hope you are having a good holiday break!

    gail

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  19. Amy/Blossom,

    We have wind howling and blowing the wind chimes crazy, but it's warm for a change with a chance of rain! Oh, how I wish I could be gardening, too. Does it frustrate you to visit the blogs further south with active gardening still happening?

    Gail

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  20. Kylee,

    That is a good way to feel! Maybe more church services should be outside...when the weather cooperates!

    Thank you for your kind blessings and the same to you and your family!

    gail

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  21. Ravquel,

    Thank you...I'm glad you enjoyed it! I have to check the weather map but are you having the warm breezy weather that the southeast is having? I hope so! Have a delicious weekend!

    Gail

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  22. Lynnie,

    Hello dear! How were all the holidays in Hong Kong?
    I am very glad you are coming back to the states...it will be an interesting adjustment! Can't wait to pop down there for a visit! That's a plane ride I can handle!

    gail

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  23. Annie,

    Thank you! It has settled down here...the cat actually sniffed the dog, then turned his nose up and calmly walked away.

    I peaked at the weather map and Austin's day sounds like ours...I hope you are able to get some good time in the garden! Aren't we lucky to be able to end the year with hands in the soil?

    Happiest New Year Annie!

    gail

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  24. Joey,

    Hello! Thank you..we are having a great time! I hope your holiday has been filled with love and celebration~~ your blog is, so I am guessing your family feels loved and happy! Your recipes are too tempting.

    gail

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  25. Jan,

    Our gardens are healing retreats for many of us! I feel so lucky to have found my passion! I think you have, too! Happy gardening and I hope you are having the sweet weather we are..

    Gail

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  26. Wonderful post Gail! I really enjoyed it. I want to repspond to Lisa's comment if I may. Lisa- When Jamie and I were forced to stop gardening a few months ago, it was as if someone snatched a rug out from under us. We both literally and absolutely fell apart mentally. We had no idea how much we were being grounded by all the work we were doing in the garden. So yes, I absolutely believe people can get sad in the winter from not gardening. It's so healing...--Randy

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  27. Nancy,

    Aren't they lovely! They seemed the perfect pick me up for the season. Thank you Nancy, I am glad you liked the post...it's deep feelings that our gardens bring forth! Have a delightful weekend!

    gail

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  28. Lisa,

    Thank you...I am having a delightful time! I get cranky after a few gray days and too much rain...that's our winter. It's hard for me to imagine not being able to get out at all! Being snowbound must be very tough...but should we ever get deep enough snow I have a set of Yowee snowshoes! LOL. Have a great weekend.

    Gail

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  29. Randy,

    I hear you! Those of us able to continue gardening, even a little are the luckiest of gardeners! My back has made some gardening activities impossible to do and those were my favorites...I do get cranky and down, too! Thank you for answering Lisa's comment and sharing your experiences! Have a good weekend.

    Gail

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  30. Beckie,

    I am glad you liked it! Gardening is good for our souls. I do hope you had a good time with your family? We have and it's wonderful knowing our son will be here a few more days!

    Have a great weekend~~

    Gail

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  31. Hi, Gail, and Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Doesn't, King Coal, your son, Baby, and the dirty clothes (hope they're clean by now . . .) Thanks for the revisit--it's beautifully done, and I love to get another perspective on your garden. I hope you're enjoying your WARM WEATHER--you're warmer today than I am in Arizona!

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  32. Gail, This was a wonderful post and certainly worth "revisiting." Your clients must feel very safe and more at ease in such beautiful surroundings. If I were one, I would certainly rather sit on the front porch than in an office:) I know I am a much calmer person when I've spent time in the garden.

    Hope you are enjoying the holidays with your son and family.

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  33. As so many others have said, this is a beautiful post.

    Your clients are very lucky to have you and to be able to see your lovely garden.

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  34. Sorry about the double posting! I hit the Publish button twice. My computer's a bit slow this morning.

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  35. Sweetbay,

    I erased one, I hope you don't mind, although, now it looks funny...I am apparently in need of more coffee!!

    I think it's blogger that is slow, I have had a great deal of trouble commenting all morning!

    I am glad you enjoyed the post and I feel so honored each time a client visits; their trust and safety are high priorities for me!

    How's the weather over there? It want to rain, the humidity is so high the patio is sweating! But the breeze is wonderful and the wind chimes and birds sound beautiful together.

    Take care and I do hope you get some good time in the garden!

    gail

    Gail

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  36. Rose,

    Thank you for your kind words...some times the garden is too much of a distraction for me and a client! The garden really does calm...

    I would love for you to come sit on the porch with me. Let me know if you happen this way!

    I hope your weekend is good and that the weather is calm and much warmer!

    Gail

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  37. Gail you must have written this for me. I find my healing, relaxing and joy in working with nature. It is what saved me almost 30 years ago when one way of life ended. I really just returned to my roots. Roots that had laid dormant could now surface once again. Thank you again.
    You write as beautiful as your imgages.

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  38. Hi Gail. I'm glad you're having a wonderful holiday. Enjoy it to the max. It always seems to come and go so quickly. I missed this post the first time around so it's new to me but very moving and beautiful. You have such a way with words & such empathy that you have to be a good therapist. I wholeheartedly agree that a garden is healing. I gave it up in the middle of a divorce and it was the worst possible decision I made. Getting back to it, the best. If I were coming to you for a session, I'd want to have it IN the garden! :-) Happy holidays again.

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  39. I love this post Gail....it is very close to my heart.......and I can truly understand everything you have written.....

    I was very ill many years ago.....I needed to nourish and nurture my soul.....I came to this garden eight years ago and have planted it from scratch......it has been my salvation......I need to be out most days, even in cold weather.......

    Thank you for a wonderful post....I am sure that your clients will appreciate your beautiful garden and also know they have someone who can help them through their bad times........you have a wonderful way with words........

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  40. Hi Gail,
    I agree. I feel so much better when I sit or work out in the garden(-: I wish everyone had one to enjoy(-:

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  41. Hi Cindee,

    It's wonderful that you found gardening....It's such a spirit raiser! I wish that more people could find something they feel passionate about...even if it's not gardening.

    Gail

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  42. Ernestine,

    Hello...sometimes we have to refigure out how important something is to us and then re-embrace it! I am glad you rediscovered gardening and it gives you a place to go to relax, heal and be yourself. Thank you for the kind compliment....it means a great deal to me.

    Gail

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  43. Kathleen,

    Hello. Thank you...I hope your holiday has been deliciously wonderful! Having just one child who is all grown up makes for a relatively quiet time...aside from the laundry and cat and dog issues!

    I am not sure why, but we seem to give up our passions in times of trouble...right when we need it the most! So glad you took it back! it is a healing activity to get out there and let everything wash over and away~~

    Thank you, thank you, thank you...for your very kind compliments:)

    Gail

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  44. Cheryl,

    I am so glad your garden worked its magic and you are healed....I also understand the need to be there everyday. Even if I can't garden, I wander around a pick up limbs and look things over; but working the soil is the best medicine.

    Thank you...I am glad you liked the post and I am touched that you liked my writing and the post!

    I hope you are having a nice holiday and that you are able to get your hands in the soil some!

    gail

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  45. Hi Gail,
    This post was one of those that while I was reading it, I slowed down. I ended up reading this post three times, and then went outside to think about it before commenting.
    I have always thought that a garden was healing, but I had not heard of the scientific name, biophilia hypothesis. That is so interesting to think about and consider.
    Your garden looks so lovely, too.
    The first time I saw the screened porch I thought it was very special. It has such a great feeling, sheltered but not closed in. What a perfect place for healing, too.
    My Mother was at Stanford medical in August. They have an enchanted garden of roses and loose flowers, tall Cosmos and the like in the long approach to the front entrance. My stress went down many degrees when I first went to visit. The gardens helped every day we visited. Many very ill patients were sometimes out there with families. It was an emotional thing to see, but quite beautiful as it was part of all the stages of our life. The garden created a place of serenity for these families and for me.
    Thank you, Gail for posting this again; this is a beautiful post.
    Philip

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  46. In gardening we engage in a parternship with Mother Nature and recieve her many gifts.I find my garden is a place of respite for me This was a wonderful post Gail!

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  47. Dear Phillip,

    Your comment is deeply touching! I am so glad the post spoke to you. The porch is exactly as you described sheltering but open on 3 sides with double operable glass doors that take you into the house. It is often too distracting to have a session there...but we still do, especially if someone needs a calming experience. Before the porch there was a large 'picture window' that we often just looked out of at nature.

    How wonderful that there was a healing garden for you to visit while your mom was hospitalized. My mom just plain resisted nature...I think it might have eased her anxiety a bit if she had been able to let it!

    So, Phillip, it was my pleasure to post this essay again...thank you for your very kind words.

    Gail

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  48. naturegirl,

    That is the heart of gardening...a partnership! The gifts are many; not always easy to accept but always with lessons from which we can learn. I am so glad you find respite in your garden and that you enjoyed the post!

    gail

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  49. Dear Gail, I was very moved when I read this post, so much so that I couldn't initially bring myself to comment. I love the idea that your clients may find some peace of mind while looking at your garden and I hope they all do, even if they don't show it or realise it at the time.
    I have found not just my garden but any garden, any view of natural life, to be incredibly therapeutic. I think that for me, it's the sense that life goes on, despite us.
    Whatever I'm trying to deal with in my life, that blackbird will still bounce across the lawn in search of a worm. That squirrel will still raid the bird feeder. In a month or so, that early-flowering prunus will be a mass of pink, as it is every year.
    I don't even think you have to be a gardener to benefit from looking at a garden. I'm just grateful that I get a double bonus, both from looking and from gardening.
    Best wishes and a very happy new year,
    Victoria

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  50. Dear Victoria,

    I am glad you came back to post~~ Even gladder that you have the double blessing of visiting gardens and working in your own beautiful one. Life does go on; it's sometimes unbelievable that it can...when our lives feel like the clock has stopped. Then there is as you say..the blackbird chasing the worm, the squirrel raiding the bird feeder and before you know it the prunus is abloom in pink...Life pushing us and starting the hands moving on the clock.
    Thank you so much for stopping by, for reading and then coming back to post. Your words were beautiful and your voice clear and strong. Warmest wishes for a happy New Year to you. Gail

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  51. I'm sure your enjoying your visit with your son. There's still plenty of Winter in which to dream about gardening! ;-) Thank you for your re-post!

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  52. Dear Gail, I remember this post, it would be difficult to forget such heart felt words for it speaks to us all. Your garden is a soothing balm to the pains of life, as are your words.
    Frances

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  53. Gail I remember it word for word and love you for reposting it. I remember thinking that you would be the perfect person to talk to if I was one of your lucky patients. Have a wonderful time with your son. My oldest is home till the first...lucky me.

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  54. Shady,

    Hi...per your request...I did clean it up! Hi again...I am having a great time with son, his gf and occasionally the big dog! He misses his boy when he leaves him with us! We had a little bit of warm weather and it was heavenly...that's how it is here. I loved your post, btw!

    gail

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  55. Anna,

    There you go again being all wonderful and supportive! I am glad you liked it and remember well your saying that before! It meant a lot then and still does! I hope you have had a good holiday? Have fun with your boys!!

    gail

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  56. Frances,

    Thank you dear! I am glad you're back...it's been quiet and I haven't had anyone to get into mischief with! Plant mischief! I knew you would remember the post...you have an excellent memory and have been here since the beginning for me! Thank you...for that and for the very kind words!
    Gail

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  57. I feel the same about my garden and I get so much pleasure when other people visit and feel the same connection. Happy New Year to you and your family

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  58. Rusty,

    Hi there! I am glad you get that double pleasure from your garden! Happiest New Year to you and your family!

    Gail

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  59. I read this post after the one above. I am not a therapist, but intuitively I know gardens are all about healing. My favorite person from my childhood was my grandmother, and she was a gardener. I often feel her next to me when, on my knees, I work in the garden.

    Your patients are blessed.~~Dee

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  60. I'm totally confident your clients benefit from being surrounded by your garden; your piece describes so beautifully how our gardens can connect us to where we live and inspire in the process.

    For me, time spent in our garden, puttering with vegetables, noticing birds, planting perennials, potting up seedlings, etc. -- these are times that I definitely cherish. It reminded me of a reflective post I made some time ago about the nature in gardening!

    Thanks!
    Lisa

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  61. A wonderful post, Gail...there truly is so much healing in a garden! I am glad you can work close to yours and that your patients can visit it when they come to see you, too.

    Marie

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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