Nothing New Under the Sun

Posted by dianne on Jul 19, 2008 in Blog | Tags:, , , | No comment

Don’t you hate being predictable? I had been waiting to get into gardening. I had this notion that I couldn’t tackle the outside of the house until I “finished” or at least “caught up on” the inside of the house.

Every spring I would put a couple of geraniums in pots and promise, “pretty soon”… “not this year but soon.” I would keep trying to slog away at the clutter, and paint the woodwork, fold the laundry, and so on and so on. Meanwhile I would pore over gardening books and magazines and imagine what I would do with the garden when I finished the house.

After living in said house for more than twenty years, it finally dawned on me that unless I had some sort of personality transplant, I will never finish the house. Or even get caught up. I am “housekeeping-challenged” and I have accepted that. So I finally decided to start on the garden. I started by literally carving out some garden space in the front of the house, two-foot square by two-foot square, I cut patches of grass out in front of the evergreens with a paring knife. I lifted out the grass and kneaded each clump to work out the dirt. I couldn’t wait to dig out the whole bed before starting to plant. So square by square, after the grass was out, I worked in some peat moss and added new top soil, I planted a perennial and added a pink geranium for color. I finished off with pine mulch and admired my work.

It felt great. I loved being outside in the sun. I loved working the dirt with my fingers, and I loved how the little patches looked when I was finished. After I had been at it for a few days, my neighbor from across the street stopped by. “Wouldn’t that go faster if you rented a sod cutter?” she suggested. “Probably,” I replied, “but I like doing it with my hands. It’s therapeutic,” I said with no irony in my voice.

I felt so creative. I had not just planted some flowers; I had not just discovered gardening. I had INVENTED gardening. I had had a similar experience once before. When I gave birth to my first daughter, I was heady with the knowledge that I was the first human being to invent the whole processes of child bearing. Now I knew that no one before me had experienced the wonder that comes from that special communion with nature that produces a beautiful flower bed.

What intoxication! This was the cure for all forms of frustration or melancholy. Just get out there with those garden tools, and in minutes blue moods would be banished. The physical benefits were equally health-giving; surely the digging, bending, lift, standing, kneeling, walking, carrying would bring a new trim to my waist even as they brought roses to my cheeks and to the garden.

I was in love. I was so clever.

Within weeks I read that baby boomers by the millions are taking up gardening. Those of us born between the years of 1946 and 1964 can’t seem to do anything alone. Whether it is attending rock concerts, growing long hair, dropping out of school, or discovering the joys of the garden, we do it in droves.

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