then there’s GARDENING

It’s that strange time of year when it really feels like the tranquilizer darts of last year’s hunting posse haven’t worn off yet and isn’t there a table to be under, yet one must still rise up.  Rise up, yes, go forth, and pull weeds.

I ordered seeds today for this year’s garden, which is always a big excitement.  It has replaced shoes, this quest for seeds, and I now limit myself to one catalog. (Baker Heirloom, this year) (Not to say that I don’t order other seeds from time to time, but.).  This is a huge sacrifice but then again one does learn over time that there are only so many resources at one’s disposal and far, far more interesting seeds than space or time may allow for. (I could not, as it happens, pass up the toothache plant, but there it is. I was able to pass on morning glories.) I’m hoping I’ll have enough saved this year’s garden for NEXT year, in any event.  Being all grown up and everything now I have even LABELLED the seeds I’ve saved from the past couple years of tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash (albeit the squash label says “mystery”- *sigh*) and all the other seeds from myriad prior plantings are more or less organized.  It means you have to let things bolt to save the seeds in many cases but this just plays into the fatigue that comes up about the time this needs to happen.   It all works.

In any event.  I garden by color largely, once purpose is dealt with.  Plants for pollinators, for medicine, for food, and for fun.  After all, a salmon colored watermelon with a yellow rind? Or bright red carrots with deep orange exteriors?  OR! Chartreuse beans with purple stripes? It makes the whole experience just that much more fantastic.  Last year we had a rainbow of tomatoes: yellow, green, pink, green and pink, purple/black.   It was enough to drink in their appearance, cut them and inhale the fragrance, and finally partake.   So simple.   It was hard to wait til we went inside most days.

But, before that part of the simple happens, there’s this other part where you go out and get totally muddy and scraped up lugging piles of limbs and debris from here to there, carefully dispensing mychorrhizal nutrients along with the black gold of worm castings into pots and holes.  Then there’s the REALLY HARD part of waiting for the seeds to sprout.  Last year I had tons of seeds started and carefully arranged and then….yes, Gentle Reader.  It all got mixed up and we had a lot of mystery for quite some time.  This year the gophers have finally realized that they can, in fact, get into the back garden area so that will have to be dealt with, too.  So far talking to them is not doing the trick; mayhem will probably ensue.

Anyway.   The rhythm of this  rural existence is interesting.  In a city, working at a regular job, you miss a lot.  The seasons appear but since you’re always inside at work you don’t see them all that much.  It isn’t as physically demanding, notwithstanding the stress of urban life.  The night sky is obscured in large part, and since you’re always doing something more or less the same there aren’t the huge ebbs and flows that happen when for half the year you’re always outside physically laboring and pushing through the heat and bugs and whatnot.  The summer seems like both penance and luxury: the hard work, the intense heat, the fantastic beauty.  The long dusks and nights, when the evening flowers release their fragrance to starry, meteor flecked skies, even as the roses and mints wait for morning to once again bless everything with their scents. Then winter hits, and BOY ARE YOU TIRED.  I realized I was really anxious for days and days of rain which would mean we’d HAVE to stay inside.  This year that didn’t happen and somehow being immobilized on a couch when the sun’s out doesn’t have the same restorative all’s right with the world feel as it does in inclement weather.  Nonetheless, this feeling of being held in the sweep of nature is interesting.  And a bit disorienting, in the sense that you know you’re being swept along by something so much larger than you.  Resistance really IS futile, earthlings.  Something carries you with its own knowledge and power and plan.  Something that lets you in on the Mystery little by little if you can just get yourself off that couch.  That growing green calls out and pretty soon you have no choice but to follow it.

The dance with the outside world goes on, of course, the struggle to make ends wave at each other if not actually meet.  It seems, though, that if you let go, or are made to let go, of our world’s expectations and importances, what we might call the Original World comes back into view.  It is worth fighting for, this world.  Watching  everything unfold, it’s hard to know just how this should be done, or if the efforts you make to steward yourself and your surroundings will be enough.   I just read an old saying, if one man sits in his house thinking the right thought it affects all.  I believe this, but also have degrees of simultaneous despair.    In the meantime, however, there are sunflowers and squashes to be planted, and a new term of learning to speak with the creatures who live among them in this season.



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