Since I haven’t written in here for a year, and I assume I have a readership of zero, I feel oddly free saying this: I’m no longer capable of writing a chatty, informative blog about gardening. And I’m not going to.
The twists and turns a long, debilitating illness takes you through – they shave off the extra bits, in my case the part where I decided that a chatty informative tone would be the way I got my Garden Information out there. I no longer have the energy to maintain an extra personality that I manufactured in order to accomplish a special task. I’m not sure I have the desire any more, either.
Because part of that chatty informative extra personality was designed to hide my real agenda. Even though I hinted that my garden experiences are not entirely in the rational world, in the past I’ve been pretty shy of actually saying how that works for me.
Well, gardening is not entirely in the rational world for anybody, as every gardener knows who has FINALLY FIGURED OUT something – only to find that, next year, that that thing doesn’t work at all.
In my case, I’ve not only accepted that gardening doesn’t always make sense: I’ve courted the irrational aspect of gardening. I would say, “that unscientific aspect of gardening” – only science really does come into it. It’s just that some of it’s wacky science. Or cutting-edge, as some of us like to call it.
Or magic, as some of us have called it for years. Plants are an easy access to a power that goes way beyond the rational; that’s the way it was for the first people who needed to know which plants to use for medicine and food; that’s the way it has been for me since my first memory of meeting a plant.
I’m just coming out of the closet about it.
Even to myself. I was in the garden, looking at a rose bush that is very skinny and long, from having been in inadequate sun for too long. (I’m actually in the middle of moving it, but in my current state, that has to happen about ten feet at a time, on a good day, so its progress down the garden has been very stately.)
That rose bush had been moved to a spot in the garden where – finally—I could walk entirely around it, view it from every angle. I thought, “OK, this would be a good time to prune that rose. It’s dormant, it needs it, I can do it without any awkwardness.”
My next thought was: “I’d better go and look up how to prune roses again.”
And the thought that followed that? “Why do that when all I have to do is get in tune with the plant and ask it where to make the cuts?” I did, and I got directions.
But before I acted on them, I had a little moment of self-doubt: had I read the plant correctly?
So I compromised. I went inside, and I looked up pruning roses. And, as far as I could interpret the instructions as they applied to my spindly rose bush, they were giving the same advice as the rose bush itself. You cut just above a 5-leafed twig; that makes sense, because leaf buds are where mitosis happens, the cell division that makes new growth (and, with any luck, a fuller rose bush, with more roses). A place where mitosis happens is a place that will make new growth when you cut it off – often two branches instead of one.
And, of course, I cut out the deadwood, but that’s a no-brainer. (Fortunate: since some of my health issues are neurological, lack of brain is frequently what I have to work with.)
There are infinite resources of information available to us, at any time, all around. All we have to do is listen, and learn how to receive it.
Well, maybe there’s one more thing: we might have to get over feeling that we’re crazy. We’ve been carefully taught how NOT to receive that information, because it’s just, well, not rational, is it? (No, it’s not, but what’s that got to do with anything?) About the time when we were being gently told that our invisible friend wasn’t real, and that magical speaking plants were just a pretty story, we began closing our ears to those worlds. The worlds where anything can shift in an instant, where we aren’t limited to human speech or human understanding. The worlds of that peace we so often find in the garden.
That’s because a garden – and this isn’t even weird science, it’s accepted physics – a garden is really a dancing whirl of waves and particles which can part, shift, and rearrange in an instant. Which respond to our desires. (Yep, they’ve done tests for that, too.) And since cities, buildings, oceans, and human bodies are made of that same dancing whirl, a garden is a place where we can return to feeling that we belong in the world, that the world can be a beautiful place to be, and our part in it can be beautiful, too.
When we do without the leafy ornament of words, the extended branches of meaning, the hard dead carapace of a past life, we return to our natural selves, opening to the ever-moving life that flows around and through us.