Monday, September 22, 2008

Blue Monday.

I just love loosing myself and the sense of time while gardening. I don't know about the rest of you gardeners but I have a tendency to work myself beyond any sense of pain and then pay for it dearly the next day. Last week I spent a significant time in the garden and the

weather was perfect...seriously, perfect. I don't think I broke a sweat, it was as cool as an Alaskan summer day and the air smelled sweet and fresh. So I just labored on without thinking twice about my hip or fingers that are now swollen and sore (and still I'm so happy to get out there as soon as it's light.)

Right now I am in the process of trying to finish up several hard scape projects in the yard, putting in a new raised bed, moving paths...a lot of rock work and trying to find a way to stop my little Boston Terrier from escaping out of the backyard...among other things. The most labor intensive thing has been transplanting some rather large shrubs. It took me nearly an hour just to remove them, then another to dig holes and get them settled in.

Autumn is my favorite season in Texas. Partly because it does remind me of Summers in cold climates but mostly because of the smells, the welcomed chill in the air and the renewed sense of energy and excitement that carries you through projects that during the heat seemed impossible to fathom.

Along with the ability to move faster comes a rift in creativity and I wish my body could withstand all my eyes and mind are determined to see transform...I'm not talking about mother natures wand or the miracle of growth but my own egos urge to tinker and play.

Last Wednesday night, I went to listen to the wonderful Patty Leander talk about winter vegetable gardening and have been thinking not so much about the topic but her story. She spoke about learning from her father and other gardeners then passing that (torch hardly seems appropriate...um) spade onto her daughters and you could tell that she was seeing into the future of her family tree all the beautiful things that nurturing this desire should bring. It's a beautiful story rich in tradition and love, the kind that brings on misty eyes and that fleeting sense of eternity.

It's not my story, it's my imaginary one. In fact, I was raised in barracks with white walls, several floors above the ground with the sound of everyone else in the building going about their daily lives. I'd stare out the window at some park near by wishing that I lived in real home with a tree house out back and lots and lots of pets that were never going to be given away and neighbors that I knew for so long that when we spoke of "the good-ole days" it was the truth. I'm not sure where my 1950's family fantasy came from, the TV families that I loved and dreamed about were the traveling family musicians...maybe the movement seemed more real to me though the music was certainly not part of our lives, except my Mom singing old show tunes while she cleaned. I've filled my house with instruments and plants and pets, there is a tree house out back and I've known my neighbors now for 11 years. But, for some reason while I'm working in the garden, listening for critters, contemplating nature, I feel as though it's not really my life. I know it's what I'm doing now and that I love it and I feel a profound sense of accomplishment and pride when I sit back and take it all in, but it's my children that will grow up in a garden filled with chickens and flowers and fresh veggies and that archetypal tree house in the sky. So, it's not nostalgia as much as it is re-framing the past in a more picture perfect today that I loose myself in. And, as chance would prove, my children don't want to work with me in the garden...they view my "obsession" with being out in the yard as just another thing that makes me a weird artist person and they probably worry that the nude paintings and murals that don the walls inside will take form as embarrassing yard art outdoors. Creating a tradition is super hard to do when you don't have anything in your fiber that feels like your being true to yourself. It's not as easy as doing the same thing over and again. It's frustrating when I spend the day working in the front yard and I can see all that's changed and then they come home from school or work, waltz right by and don't take notice. I'm not doing it for them, I know that. I'm working through my old stuff, at the same time meditating on the moment, in the moment organizing colors and textures, toiling much in the same way as I did when I made art full time only with a healthier palate. It's the season, the change in the way the
sky looks, the slanted prolonged shadows and the browning of the leaves that make me sad and touch me someplace deeply tucked away in my childhood dreams.

The long hours of gardening are a perfect healing meditation for me. A spiritual exercise or ritual that has taken the place of a once a week lecture. It's not an obsession, it's a way. Maybe a path to more poetic sorts but I think of it like a coming to terms with understanding and allowing father-time the space that's necessary to calm your mind so you can hear a tradition that's deeper than family or a few decades of yearning. In the silence of what I'm doing in the garden there is an opening that allows what I believe are ancient messages percolating up into my brain-garble the weighty theme of being one with the earth, and that is what it's all about. It's that point that guides my daily decisions outside of the garden...at the store, in the voting booth, on the road that make me who I am.

I hope that I'm planting a seed though. That when my girls are grown and
telling a story of their own they are able to elaborate gracefully, tickling
all the adjectives that permeate the moments that I am so diligently
trying to create in our small cottage garden and conscious way of life.
At the very least, they will not ever have to say goodbye to a pet before
their time is up and they will have a higher expectation of nourishment than sitting
down to a plate of canned green beans. They will live on in my memory as the
little garden nymphs they were as toddlers and hopefully they will tap
back into that when they become Mommies.


Autumn in our garden, years ago. Photos by Dana Stringer

10 comments:

Pomona Belvedere said...

I'm a big believer in that connection to earth, and that our ancestry is not just people, but all beings. I loved the way you described how gardening time opens up into spiritual space. And I think we all have to trust that whatever we do with good intent, however imperfect, will be some contribution. As John Gardner said of writing, "If you have to know it's good, don't do it." A hard dictum sometimes, but true.

ConsciousGardener said...

Thank you for your lovely comment. When I put a lot of hours into the garden, the silence pushes me inward. It's just one of the great perks.

Bonnie said...

Gardening can be a very spiritual thing. I don't feel that so much in the heat of summer- then I just want to get inside. But in fall with the wind blowing and the sun bright but not overbearing, I often just find myself standing and looking at something and suddenly, 10 minutes have gone by.

spookydragonfly said...

I completely understand where you are coming from in speaking of your children and them not taking any notice to all that you've created in the gardens. That is the reason I joined Blotanical...I didn't know anyone who felt the same as me about the sense of calm that nature brings, or the appreciation of all my hard work. My children are adults now and just beginning to seriously take on gardening in their homes, now the appreciation is starting to kick in... I think!?

ConsciousGardener said...

That's what I keep hearing SDF...when they're grown, when they're grown! I hope so:) And, I love the commeraderie from the bloggers as well!

Viooltje said...

A truly beautiful post. If I was to tell anyone just how blessed I feel gardening and digging in the dirt, I would suggest them to read your post and lose themselves in your words and reverie just like I did. Plus, that last photo is one extraordinary shot. Compliments!

ConsciousGardener said...

Thank you and the shot of my daughter was taken by my next door neighbor and dear friend Dana Stringer.

Mother Nature's Garden said...

I identify with your beautiful post on so many levels.
Donna

Mother Nature's Garden said...

I identify with your beautiful post on so many levels.
Donna

Pomona Belvedere said...

Your tree project sounds like another way to bring gardening magic into the future! I've been grateful, in different towns and cities, to whatever civic group decided to plant street trees many years ago, so I can enjoy them now.