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2023 has turned into the year of the ‘pirouette’

Pivot (intransitive verb): To turn on or as if on a pivot; to adapt or improve by adjusting or modifying something. Side note: I would like to start a movement where the definition of a word cannot contain the word itself. Pivot: A word that we decided to use (and overuse) during the pandemic when we had no idea where to turn.

This has been the year of my pivot, or as I more eloquently refer to as “pirouette.” Back in early March, I was blessed to have my daughter in town, the sun was shining, and the skiing was grand. After a couple of hours on the slopes and before I headed into work, I had a heart attack. A big one. Never encountering this kind of pain/discomfort before, I convinced myself that it would pass, so I better get to work (because I spent the first half of the day skiing).

It didn’t pass. It got worse. By 8 .pm., I threw in the towel and went to the hospital and, come to find out, that was the best decision I made all day (and probably my life). Twelve hours later, I was having a stent placed in my left anterior descending artery, as it (aka “the widowmaker”) was 100% blocked.


“Darrin Parmenter 2.0 will look nothing like Darrin Parmenter 1.0” were the words of my cardiologist. It scared me. I’m sure it scared Beth. I was “only” 50, relatively healthy, ate well 95% of the time (damn you, tortilla chips), and really didn’t feel any symptoms leading up to it.

Laying in the hospital bed for four days, I had a lot of time to think – and to be honest, outside of the wave of emotions that surrounded me (and my thoughts), I kept thinking of my garden. First week of March is time to start gearing up for getting all the transplants – vegetables and flowers alike – seeded inside.


We made a decision to take a year off of growing our own transplants and to scale down the garden expectations. That was tough. I like having projects, and I had planned to put in more than 100 plants for a new pollinator garden. All of this would have to wait.

But as the spring wore on and the heart started to heal and get stronger, I kept thinking about plants – or at least the plan for plants. They diverted my attention, got me excited. So I planted. And it felt good, comforting. And we built two new vegetable beds.

As we jump forward to present day, perhaps I should have stopped daydreaming about plants because these past six weeks or so have been rough in the landscape. No rain, temperatures close to 100, incessant wind. I should have waited. Yet, if I learned anything in these past five months, it’s that “this too shall pass.” At some point it will rain, the temperatures will cool and the plants will find a moment of relief. And if not? It’s OK.

The joy of the garden isn’t always in the results, and 2023 has definitely taught me that. I love the planning, the research, the sketch; I love the truck bed full of plants (don’t really like the price tag, though), the digging, the stacking of the empty containers; and I love the smell of the earth, the coolness of the mornings, and the way the light grabs the flowers in the late afternoon.

Before we know it, the season will be over. And then we sleep until our hibernation is broken by the first seed catalog and we do it over and over again. Our hearts get broken, our hands get bloody. And occasionally, we pirouette.

Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at darrin.parmenter@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464.