By Nancy L. Johnston author of Disentangle: When You’ve Lost Your Self in Someone Else

Frost ultimately came to my Covid Garden here in the Valley of Virginia. It was a sad day for me when I had to say “Goodbye” to my lovely, fruitful companion. I had been watching the forecasted temperatures and was ready to cover the remains of my flowers and vegetables on a Sunday to protect them, but the frost moved in one night earlier than my plans and took the still colorful blooms and green tomatoes. 

Life moves on. And so have I, but I have two more lessons to share from my Covid Garden. The photos in this remaining blog series were taken during the growing season. I knew then what I wanted to write about and how the produce from my small kitchen garden could help me share my thoughts.

This blog on Expect Less as a coping strategy during this pandemic poses some challenges for me. When I suggest that we expect less of ourselves and others, this is not a usual thing we do. In fact, we are often focused on doing more, having high standards, and even perfection. For me to suggest that we Expect Less could sound weak and giving in to the pressures around us. It is not.

Expecting less is more about being realistic in what we can do and kind to ourselves and others as we accept what is realistically possible. Teachers at all levels of education have been particularly challenged by the demands on them to perform and simultaneously attend to their own needs to adjust their expectations to less despite what is asked of them. Working parents with children attending school from home are simply unable to do all that they have done in the past. Both the parents and the children do well to determine what is possible to accomplish in a day or week and focus on those reasonable, adjusted goals.

And now, with the holidays upon us, Expect Less can be a useful reminder. Less gatherings, less food, less gifts; more time with our immediate family, more enjoying the taste of the food we have, more appreciation for what is already in our possession.

No one will be permanently harmed by less right now; in fact, we are helped by being realistic and accepting what is possible. Our minds can be clearer, our moods less agitated, our bodies less tense, and our spirits more accessible to us.

In the photo above, is a yellow squash from my garden. It is one of the only two yellow squash my hill of four plants produced this year. I was excited about these four plants as they were heirloom plants. This particular variety is native to America. I was enchanted with that information and looked forward to a bumper crop of native squash. That was not to happen. I don’t know why, and my experienced gardening friends don’t either. What I do know is that I had to accept less. I had to accept the two squash given to me and not rail against what these plants simply could not produce this year. The squash was delicious. I appreciate the two I was given.

There will be another year. There will be another growing season.

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