(A hellebore from my garden on Easter Sunday last year)
Here’s a lyrical passage from Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Gardening provides rewards far beyond the vegetable paycheck. It gets a body outside for some part of every day to work the heart, lungs, and muscles you wouldn’t believe existed, providing a healthy balance to desk jobs that might otherwise render us chair potatoes. Instead of needing to drive to the gym, we walk up the hill to do pitchfork free weights, weed-pull yoga and Hoe Master.
It is also noiseless in the garden: phoneless, meditative, and beautiful. Nothing is more therapeutic than to walk up there and disappear into the yellow-green smell of the tomato rows for an hour. I inhale the oxygen of their thanks.
Like my friend, David, who meditates on Creation while cultivating, I feel lucky to do work that lets me listen to distant thunder and watch a nest of baby chickadees fledge from their hoe in the fencepost. Even the smallest backyard garden offers emotional rewards in the domain of the little miracle.
Every gardener I know is a junkie for the experience of being out there in the mud and fresh green growth.
Funny, gardening used to be a deep joy at the centre of my life when I lived in America. Gardening–even more than writing which then had anxiety and uncertainty and worry associated with it.
I have never really got into gardening in England. Part of it is that I moved from a good-sized plot in America—half an acre to a massive garden: 1.5 acre. In the US, I could look and tend everything I planted in an hour. Here, it’s not possible. Here, my garden feels overwhelming.
And England is more fertile than Virginia, and everything goes feral in spring and summer, and keeping up seems a forlorn hope.
And, so the garden has become more Roy’s than mine, and when I go out, I gulp. His idea of gardening is getting things to grow. Mine is getting things to grow, but a garden as pretty as a National Trust garden.
However, the real reason I have stopped gardening is that I don’t have a slot in my schedule for it. Leo Babuata of Zen Habits says that when it comes to forming a new habit, it’s important to find a trigger. Do it just before something. Something that reminds you that it is time to practice your new habit. I haven’t yet found a slot for gardening.
England’s going through a cold snap now, so I am going to tell myself that if I do it just once or twice a week, it will be better than not at all!