Turning Up the Dark

pink hydrangea

By Amanda Cleary Eastep

This is about the time of year I start writing about spring and gardening and the anticipation of warmer days. And hope.

But just because the earth is stretching and ready to start a new day doesn’t mean we are. As much as I’ve been thinking about what to plant in my flower pots, I’ve also been ruminating about those times when spring hasn’t sprung a renewed sense of Wheeee, here we go!  

We’ve all experienced those seasons. They seem a better match for the dormancy and chill of winter when we keep our doors locked and windows shut tight against the world.

So a day like today, abundant with sunshine and teasing breezes that beg us like a best friend to Come Out and Play, may seem more of a cruel taunt.

As I sit on my patio, dead leaves loitering in the quiet corners and flowers sleeping in a black bed, I know that nothing grows or blossoms without a “turning up” of the earth.


I don’t mean a turning of the earth on its axis or even of winter into spring, but the turning that requires me to grab a spade and put my back into the hard work of revival. To stab and turn up the soil so that the hidden and dormant bits are thrust into light and air.

Sometimes I just want to be a damn, pretty-in-pink peony, all petals and sweetness.

Like. Now. No waiting, no struggle. No pushing through the hard times, getting pelted by challenges, or straining against change. I would prefer the not so lovely things in my life, the wormy, squirmy dark stuff that makes people say ew, to stay nice and deep.

pink hydrangea

Yet, all that dark matter, our pasts, challenges, and failures, can eventually nourish our roots. It may also need some turning, some exposure, some soil analysis, to help us understand why we may or may not be flourishing where we’re planted.

Actually, a good “turning up” can free us. In seasons past, I’ve sat with my family and closest friends and dumped a huge pile of deep down stuff at their feet. (I warned them beforehand to wear hip boots.) It changed our relationships, always for the better but not necessarily for the “prettier.”

Because here’s the thing, as a gardener, I can’t expect beautiful blooms or ripe tomatoes or a healthy harvest without acknowledging what lies beneath. Not only acknowledging it, but digging into it, healing it, and even loving it.

After all, it’s the dark stuff that feeds whatever we are trying to birth into the light.

9 thoughts on “Turning Up the Dark

  1. I love your analogy here, Amanda! “It changed our relationships, always for the better but not necessarily for the “prettier.”” Sometimes prettier just hides what’s down deep and the relationships don’t get better. I’m all for digging down especially if it clarifies things and makes relationships better. Thank you for your words, Amanda. They always encourage.


  2. This made me cry because it relates so much to my current life season, but for that same reason it also gave me a lot of hope. Thank you.


  3. I’m right there with you, Amanda–trying so hard to muster up the spring “wheeee” energy needed to do the actual work of revival. Thanks for putting this all into words, it’s food for the soul.


    1. Glad for that, Amelia. It’s the same with lots of seasons, though, isn’t it? Especially certain holidays. It’s difficult to partake when life feels “off.” But revival in any season does take work sometimes. Thank you for reading, my friend!


  4. Enjoyed reading this for it reminds me that even with the chance to live in Florida and the people I met, I found myself longing for the area of home, something about the changing of the seasons that give you pause to listen and hear and enjoy the beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

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