Monday, April 15, 2013

Doing the garden, digging the weeds ...

...who could ask for more ?

Looking over the  potato patch at my bus
I have stopped traveling for a while and found roots in North Carolina and in the soil. It's spring. Butterflies and blossoms are everywhere.

This is a different kind of a journey, planting potatoes, and in a few weeks tomatoes and many, many other things. 

It is a journey that is hard to describe and harder still to photograph. It is a journey back to the beginning — the garden.

As attuned as one becomes to nature living in the desert or the mountains or the forest, there is a different attunement that comes from working the soil.

Weather also takes on a different feel. Whether the sun shines or the rains come, the wind blows, the earth freezes or heats up matters in a different way. Will the potatoes have enough water? Will the spinach grow? Is it warm enough for tomatoes? Cool enough for peas?

Over all this there is little control.  It is easy to over romanticize gardens. But farming is not romantic.  It is hard work.  It is a very unnatural thing we do to the earth, dig and plant and make it work for us.  

Yet you cannot spend hours with a shovel turning red clay, breaking the clods and seeing the worms, hearing the buzz of bees in the fruit tree blossoms, the sounds of frogs at night without beginning to feel peacefully at home in the cycle of things that grow.

If farming is unnatural, how much more unnatural is getting in a car and going to an office or a factory to earn a paycheck that in the final analysis allows you to buy a life.

That is what we are becoming, too many of us, men and women who sell our time to buy our lives; and what artificial lives we end up buying when we do.

On the cherry trees and apple trees and plum trees, on the peach trees and redbuds, and soon the magnolias, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of the most intricate blossoms of the most beautiful and delicate hues, all for the gazing.

They won't be around long. Only a few weeks. And that's the beauty of it! What a parade they make decked out in their finest.

Pink cherry blossoms,  bud and bloom
And what a lesson they have to impart. They will not be around long and neither will we.

So when spring comes, and the soil melts, and the shovel turns, and the seeds sprout, the birds sing, it is a feast, a festival, a joyous dance of renewal. 

It is life taken in through the pores, the nostrils, the ears, the eyes, the taste buds.  It is clouds in a blue sky, a hundred shades of green and yellow leaves and grass.

Digging the garden, doing the weeds who could ask for more?

At the moment as I put the rake down and look at the upturned earth I cannot think of asking for much more than this.