Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Sometimes I think we gardeners typecast ourselves as eccentric, solitude-loving, back-to-nature tree huggers.  And you know what?  There’s probably a good reason for that (it’s the truth?). 

But I know that gardeners are as diverse in their other interests as their plots are diverse in plants.  I love the solitude of gardening and hugging trees is a metaphorical passion of mine.  I love how primal it feels to sink a shovel into the ground.  I love the sound it makes when you push down on the shovel and small roots give way under the pressure. 

It is an entirely different sensation than swiping to unlock my iPhone.  And yet, I love that sensation too.  I love the ease of the movement.  I love the swoosh sound.  The experience is anything but primal.

Slide to Unlock doormats - A black version can be purchased for $49.90 here.

I have tried to marry these opposite experiences by downloading gardening apps and using iTunes to play music while I worked (I have a playlist of songs chosen just for me to enjoy while gardening) but, like I imagine all arranged marriages to be, the result was clumsy and disheartening.

Yesterday was a beautiful California spring day.  It was sunny and warm and quiet.  So after I finished eating lunch I went outside to soak it up.  I was dressed for work and happened to be sporting a bright white shirt.  Not wanting to put forth the energy it would take to select a new outfit should the current one get dirty was sufficient motivation not to pull weeds, prune off rusty rose leaves, or turn the compost while I was out there. 

Instead, I sat down and looked around.  Although gardeners may be diverse in their interests and tendencies, I have a hunch that just sitting down and doing nothing much in the garden is not something most gardeners actually do on a regular basis.   It felt odd at first.  It felt lazy and that made me feel guilty.  It felt like I was missing an opportunity to get ahead of things out there.  It felt like I should be doing something, but what could I do without getting dirty and having to change clothes before going back to work? 

And then it hit me.  Actually, it gently vibrated my leg.  I pulled out my phone to see what was invading my privacy and after seeing that it was just a "Words with Friends" notice that it was my turn, I thought to check my journal so I could look up the cultivar name of the gardenia I had been admiring a minute previously.  From there I decided that I would use my phone's notes feature to update some of the things that I had noticed about the yard that I could take care of some other time when I wasn't wearing white.  I started thinking about things like taking the antenna off the roof, replacing some of the stones and wooly thyme in the pathway, and whether it was time to take out the lavender I planted so many years ago and no longer fits the look . . .

My current list could use some work
but it's a starting point for this weekend.

It wasn’t exactly a quiet meditation in the garden.  But it wasn’t exactly tuning out the natural world with an iOS device either.  When it was time to head back to work I felt like I had both rested and accomplished something.   And that is a great feeling for any gardener. 

1 comment:

  1. We have outdoor speakers, and sometimes I wish my wife would play some music while I am gardening--but apart from autumn Saturdays with the alma mater on the gridiron, I know I am content to disconnect from everything...and that includes me. When on the business end of Mr. Diggy, I am turned off in a completely Zen sort of way. I can still come back to myself to get the 'next thing' in order, but I like being tuned out, so much so that the thinking and the doing nothing sort of blend. Once I stood leaning on my shovel looking at my garden for so long, a hummingbird landed on my shoulder. It couldn't tell how busy I was.

    I like what you say about being a 'tree hugger,' I think of myself as a true "environmentalist," despite the fact that many of my views don't run parallel to Capital 'E' Environmentalism...I guess it is because I am a preserver AND a user of the trees; I am among them and OF them, they aren't just over there being an abstract idea. Really enjoy your thoughts.