I used to hate gardening, all that time spent sweating and weeding and all of that hard work for what? Some flowers that withered and died when their season was done or the weather turned freakish? I could be inside, reading, the cool of the couch and the whirl of a world laid out in a book as an option– not prickled skin from thorns and muddy gloves and stopping every so often because summer is hot and you have to make time to hydrate.
I didn’t see the point when I was younger, though I did my duty because it was asked.
Maybe it’s maturity that means that the work itself is a pleasure for the sake of the work, the scent of the earth, the smell of all of the flowers– the micro view of whatever I’m weeding/deadheading/uprooting/replanting/putting into order, and the macro view of how many bags of weeds I take out, pints I put up, what it all looks like from the top of the steps, the bathroom window, the fact that some of it ends up on the plate and in the vase. It’s the pleasure of being simple productive.
Maybe it’s immaturity, and a lack of ability to lose myself in a book any more because my anxieties don’t so easily subsume when I read (or more maturity, because the therapy’s getting me in touch with my inner emotional life?); now, words about feelings too easily call to my mind all the things I’ve yet to resolve, whereas taking electric hedgeclippers to six yards of privet– that’s an easy way to channel aggression.
Or maybe, instead, it’s just finally seeing the point, a kind of zen thing that has less to do with a Panglossian idea of tending one’s own garden, and more with the idea of just– being wherever you are, and doing not just one kind of thing. Sweat is sweat. Time in the sunshine or outside is a good contrast to time spent inside. There are different kinds of productive. Fresh rocket’s delicious. Shower fresh herbs on everything, while you can. Flowers are pretty, for however long they may last, and even if they get hailed on next week, they are worth it while they are here.
I suppose, if I could figure out a way to also channel in a bit about how pruning shears are sometimes better emotional expressors than blog posts, I could sum it thusly, because philosophies of lives aren’t always aptly distilled, and redefining 38 years of avoidance and heartbreak and getting over yourself are kind of like something named for a part of a bird they look nothing like when they first appear– and don’t much look like the family they’re related to, either. Cranesbill, named for the shape of the seedpods after they’ve died back for the season and are getting ready to scatter themselves for the winter, then come back next spring, because even something blue that looks nothing like other geraniums can manage a perennial life.
When I was young, and hated gardening, I don’t think I could have dreamt of this philosophy: Gather ye pictures of rosebuds (and everything else) while ye may, and hone ye photography skills whilst ye are at it, because each blossom is precious, and while there will be more and one shouldn’t be too maudlin over lost chances, there’s nothing wrong, too, with saying– the early summer of 2013 was a summer for flowers, even as you don’t know at all what next year will be like, not at all. But– there have been good summers before. They will happen, sometime, again.