Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August dans le jardin

Lots of people garden. Lots of people love to garden and there are some for whom gardening is an obsession. Gardening means different things to different people. Some are all flowers, some are all veggies. Some grow fruit trees, which to my mind is more an orchard than a garden, but to each their own as they say.

I have a co-worker who has a plot in the same community garden that I do. To him and his wife their small plot is part of their grocery budget. They are dedicated gardeners, and count on their produce to reduce the size of their grocery bill. They do quite well, too, frequently getting the “most beautiful plot” award. The rain this year has put them out of the running for this year I’m afraid. But it leaves hope for everyone others to have a chance at winning. Their plot is in the flooded area so they started quite late and a lot of what they did grow rotted in standing water. I dare say the wet years – few and far between as they are – are part of what makes their plot normally quite fertile. Myself I think it’s his being Dutch that makes him such a good gardener. Stereotyping I know, but we all have our prejudices, yes?

Fresh vegetables on the table is the reason I give most people when asked why I like to garden. I don’t do any gardening at home beyond an herb garden, so the plot at the community gardens would be my main gardening fix. You may have guessed from the first sentence that fresh food on the table is not the whole truth about it, and you’d be right with that guess.

The thing is, I like what goes with the gardening. The ambience, I guess you could say. I just like being there. Even the weeding appeals to me. I go out there with a bag and sit down cross-legged and row by row pull out the weeds and put them in the bag. It takes a long time, but it’s peaceful. Not completely silent, but the sounds you do hear are soothing. Muted voices of other gardeners carried on the breeze, crickets and grasshoppers making their presence known, the occasional high pitched whistle of a thieving gopher, the rustle of leaves from the row of trees by the lane going in combine to make a summer symphony.

Watching things that you’ve planted in faith start to push their way out of the earth is another favourite past time. One day there is nothing, and suddenly what feels like the next day there are a handful of tightly furled dark green leaves poking above ground, the first of the early season potatoes making their way into sunlight.
I have gone out to the plot when there isn’t even anything to be done: weeding up to date, watering done and nothing to harvest. It’s a good place to stop and think and stopping and thinking are things we could all use a little more of. I’ve even gone there after hours to get away from cares and worries and watch the stars. The air smells different there at night; sweeter and somehow darker too. I lay down in the path that I’ve put in the middle of the plot and listen to the night sounds and watch the stars in the night sky. I’ve never solved any of life’s most pressing mysteries, but I’m pretty sure that if ever I do it

1 comment:

  1. Gardening here is about survival for most people. And no one sits or kneels. They bend at the waist to keep their clothes clean.
    I don't do any of the above. Not allowed. Something about "elephant". . .
    This bending at the waist is not the best. I see old ladies with a cane to help, bent almost 90 degrees shuffling painfully down the street; their backs ruined by years of labour in the garden.
    I understand what you are saying about why you garden. There is some primeval urge in all of us to return to our roots (so to speak) on the land.