Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weary Warrior

My goodness but the garden did its job this weekend. It took me into its embrace and nurtured me, gave me a place to recover and rest. And then once it had accomplished restoration, it demanded a kind of industry that energized me and gave me such sweet satisfaction.

I've been thinking about sustainability. Ever since my daughter Claire took the bold, brave move to visit a completely self-sustaining farm in Ecuador. She spent an entire week off the grid at a place called Sacred Suenos near Vilcabamba in southern Ecuador. I've been thinking about how I have slowly been evolving a garden that once only grew pretty flowers along pathways of stone and grass to something that is sustaining life and repurposing itself in its compost and in the food it grows. And as I've evolved from a rather uneducated gardener to one that sees the garden as a metaphor for all things, I've also somehow managed to turn a rather dispassionate young girl, who sometimes stopped to admire it, into a young woman, who cares enough about gardens that she spent a week working hard on a real one that tries vigorously to be a fully sustainable farming venture. Last night, she told me that she thinks that whereever she goes, she'll try to grow something in a garden.

Well, I guess my garden has done its job there too. For me, I arrived home Friday completely wiped out. This project was for all practical purposes nearly impossible to do. Had I tried to do it all by myself, I would have failed. Fortunately, I was able to multiply forces by engaging my colleagues to pitch in just small amounts, in a many-hands make less work fashion. Still, I woke early each day, worked through lunches, stayed late in the evenings and even worked through on a Saturday. So that by the time, I signed off at about 7 p.m. last Friday, I had clocked innumerable hours.

Saturday morning, I woke at 4:30 as if I was still on deadline. My body wanted to sleep, but my mind tracked only to this rigorous schedule. So I got up intent on reading all that I had missed in the past four weeks. By 8:30, I was coffee'd up and so Kate and I went off to Behnkes. There, I wandered around studying the plants, thinking of places in my garden where I might add this, or transplant that. But the thought of raising a shovel or turning any dirt was so beyond anything I could possibly do. When I got home, I took a book and some tea down to the garden. And there I rested, reading and listening to the catbirds call each other. I drifted off to sleep in my purple chair. The cool breeze sometimes pushing a lock of hair across my forehead. And there I rested for a couple of hours, until I realized that what I needed to do was to go to bed. And so off to bed, in the middle of the afternoon. And through the night and into the morning, I slept and recovered.

Well, Sunday morning, the catbirds called me into action. I felt so good. The morning was fresh. The garden was glorious. I took my bike to the farmer's market for the first time. All those times we've traveled Piney Branch Road by car, I never realized how steep those hills were. Pumping harder, accessing core strength, even screaming out with joy as I pushed myself up the hills. Heads turned inside passing cars to check out the crazed woman. Sailing back down on the other side, wind in my hair. Oh joy, I live a charmed life. All day, I worked in my garden, mowing grass, feeding compost, pulling weeds and singing the songs that pumped through my iPod into my ears. And when it was all done. I took a look at what I had created and I felt so happy. What joy! The Putterer

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