Moe (my lovely bride of 38 years) introduced me to a new word recently. She has been starting her garden plants from seeds this year. The process includes her providing them loving daily attention - from the selection of the potting soil to the regular mistings with water to the exposure to sunlight through our dining room windows. Of late, she has been moving the plants out onto the porch during most days (the ones in which we don't have 40 mile per hour winds, anyway), then moving them back into the house in the evenings. Her purpose in that persistent moving in and moving out process, she tells me, is to "harden" the plants. That hardening is the preparation for their soon-to-occur transplantation into the garden, where they will spend the rest of their lives.
Hardening, Moe tells me, is the process of acclimating the young plants to the temperature swings, the insect exposures, the heat of direct sunlight, the humidity swings, and the wind. All that swaying back and forth, the heating and cooling, the pecking and nibbling, serve to toughen the plants up for their eventual relocation in the harsh reality of living in the garden.
Reminds me of the processes we used when raising our children, to prepare them for the ebb and flow of life "in the real world." Reminds me, too, of how some of my best bosses and mentors over the last 50 years have "hardened" me by providing just the right amounts of pressure, responsibility, exposure, support, and, yes, protection. Just as Moe does with her plants, they thoughtfully and persistently prepared me for my future.
Some still are. (Thanks.)