I turned 50 this week and feel pretty great about it.  The wonderful thing about 50, as opposed to 35 or 43 or 45, is that you are no longer mourning your lost youth.  It is gone, baby, so you might as well just admit it and enjoy the stage you are at.

Of course, I have been completely shaped at 50 by two decades of furious work with my shovel, and thank God for it!  Here are the ten best things about aging as a gardener:

  1. No pressure to be pretty.  My lilies and my children are beautiful, so anybody who thinks all women over 33 should be spending lots of time in hair salons can look at them instead.
  2. I feel fantastic.  Clearly, gardening is the best exercise program in the world.  I can do things now that I couldn’t do when I was 18 or 30, including run six miles with ease and joy and toss around cases of wine as if they were empty.  It’s important for one’s morale, while one is wrinkling and losing one’s waistline, to feel nonetheless as if one is getting fitter every day!
  3. I probably won’t get osteoporosis, which happens to run in my small-boned Irish family.
  4. I probably won’t get an allergic disease, and it’s likely that nothing serious will bother me on the auto-immune front, either.
  5. I probably won’t get seriously depressed.  Though if late blight destroys all my tomatoes again this August, I’m not promising that I won’t become murderously enraged.
  6. I will get lots of Vitamin D and always be aglow from the sun.
  7. I will not lose my appetite for life until I lose my eagerness for spring, and that is never gonna happen.
  8. I will never, ever be bored.  The Seed Saver’s Exchange Yearbook lists 13,000 different vegetable varieties. Food writer Harold McGee says that of an estimated 300,000 edible plant species, we only cultivate 2,000. The West may be won, but the vegetable garden is still an endless frontier.
  9. I will always have a task so absorbing that all mundane annoyances disappear.
  10. I will always have a community, too–the company of other gardeners, who are clearly the wisest and most wonderful people in the world.