Sunday, April 05, 2009


I think that one of the things that I love best about gardening ....

Wait a minute. I said that last sentence without thinking, but I'm realizing that it's wholeheartedly true. I'm learning to love gardening! Me, who two years ago could barely be bothered to stick a tomato in a pot (I rarely got a harvest because I'd kill the tomatoes first) is suddenly A Gardener. Well, whaddayaknow.


One of the things that I love best about gardening is that I feel the care of it. Nurture, care, guardianship. I'm caring for our home - the whole home, not just the indoors. I'm caring for our family. I'm caring for my body (gardening isn't all picking flowers). I'm caring for the neighborhood. I'm tending to the earth in my own small way. I'm caring for Tessa's connection to earth. I'm even caring for our pocketbooks - food grown at home is a LOT cheaper than store-bought food.

Care. I think that care is highly underrated in our society. It seems to me that society all about rushing and accumulation and multitasking, not stopping to nurture.

Gardening has its own schedule. I just put potatoes in the ground, and if they grow the way they're supposed to, I"ll get to harvest them in "late summer." The carrot bed that I planted (under a rosebush - do you suppose that carrots and roses can co-exist peacefully?) doesn't look like a bed of carrots, it looks like dirt. (Fresh black dirt, I might add. I added rich vermicompost to it.) But I have visions of Tessa's friends coming over to pull a carrot for a snack, just like they did last year, only this year I won't have to say "just one please because there aren't that many" (or at least I hope not). Last year we got perhaps a dozen total blueberries - we knew that we wouldn't get much of a crop for a few years. Looking at our yard now, with only small buds on the trees, and bare patches in teh grass, and gardens that look like sticks and dirt, it's hard to imagine any sort of bounty coming from it....but if to everything there is a season, today is the time to plant.

I am tucking vegetables all over the place, trying to care for this planet. Every vegetable that I grow is that much less packaging, that much less travel - even Farmer's Market produce arrives to me in a truck (though a couple of hundred of miles is much better than a couple of thousand). It tastes better, too, but it's better for the planet. (Especially now that I'm making my own compost; I'm not buying anything chemical to put on the beds. I'm still using a little organic fertilizer, but I'm trying to buy as little of that kind of thing as possible and make it all myself. All those kitchen scraps and raked up leaves are going to good use....and one of the benefits of pony lessons is free manure.) So, I feel like I'm caring for the earth.

And I'm caring for my family. Today we're out back, Tessa flying on the swings, then jumping down to examine a worm, and asking me questions about things in the garden, and occassionally doing a bit of her own gardening. Ryan hasn't been feeling well so he's doing comfort stuff - tending to his bike, of course. (This was a compromise; he wanted to ride all day but definitely wasn't up to it.) Tessa has her own ideas about the garden, and what she likes best, and what she wants to do.

And out in front, other neighbors are busy in their gardens, too, planting and tending and planning. We chat with one another, care for one another, connect with one another.

I feel more connected to the earth than ever before. I've always been a nature girl, but nature was often something that I visited to admire. This isn't wilderness, but it is just as much a part of nature. Humankind has been participating in agriculture for about eleven thousand years, and I feel that connection when I get my hands dirty. Tessa and I have picked up "Farmer Boy," the Laura Ingalls Wilder book that is third in her series, and Tessa and I understand so much more of what they're talking about now. It makes me think that, while I'm grateful for computers and blogging and iPods and bread machines and washing machines and indoor plumbing and medicine and all kinds of other modern inventions, humankind was meant to get down in the dirt. I find it shocking that I'm nearly forty years old and I can't really picture what a potato plant looks like, even though I've eaten potatoes my whole life. When I think about it, I can't picture many things that I eat unless I'm picturing them in a plastic sack or in a bin at the grocery store. Well, no more....I'm learning, and I feel the connection of that learning.

It's a quiet way to live, but it feels very full and boisterous, too. "Care" isn't a sexy life philosophy, really, but I don't find it dull.

And I'm hoping that all of these delicious vegetables and fruits that I'm growing will nourish me, and that the work that I do in the garden will tone me, and perhaps THAT will make me feel a little sexier.

Right now, I don't see much of a down side. My aching body even feels good, because my aches are not surgically induced in this case, but brought about by good, hard work.


1 comment:

Health/Life Balance said...

I find your gardening very inspiring. I've been lazy about getting my container garden started. It's like "paralysis by analysis" - I can't plant anything because I haven't bought anything, and I can't buy anything because I haven't planned anything, because I haven't taken 10 seconds to think about anything. So yesterday I went out and bought another pot, and at the Farmers Market I bought some spinach, sugar snap peas and strawberries. They're sitting on the back table now (unplanted) and I'm hoping in the next day that I'll get over to the store to get some compost and soil and other good stuff to get started. I'll have to think about what else I want to plant. I know I want tomatoes, but it's kinda early for outdoor tomatoes in Seattle. :) Thanks for making gardening seem so approachable and interesting!