When we arrived in Minnesota last month, we spent most of our free time in my mother's giant garden. She wasn't going to plant much of anything this year, until Tara and I offered to help. Ever since, we've been tagging along, following her lead, creating our first ever garden. Her massive peace-sign-shaped patch of land was chock full of weeds when we started.
Honestly, I have no idea what we are doing yet, and I feel more than a little sheepish about it. How is it possible that I have been alive for 27 years without learning a single thing about cultivating food? Just a few years ago, the mere idea of having a garden would have inspired loathing. Now, it seems patently wrong to have so little knowledge about something I rely on for sustenance every single day.
For most of my life, I've avoided manual labor at all costs. These days, when the insanity of modern society stares me in the face and makes me question the way we live our lives, I keep coming back to the garden. Being outside in the fresh air, working at something that directly contributes to my survival in some way—it really makes sense (but I could do without the mosquitoes!).
Even though it isn't really our garden, I feel a deep sense of ownership about this little piece of dirt and the tiny seeds we've tucked into it. I regularly find myself overcome by an urge to make indentations in the land, to carve out paths and make my mark like a kid making a sand-castle. As well, I find myself filled with wonder about the fact that any life could possibly spring from the seeds we've planted. They're so small, so dry, so innocuous!
I feel much as I did at the beginning stages of our cycle tour: totally clueless, but alive with excitement about the adventures to come, and the knowledge to be gained. After 20+ hours of pulling unwanted plants out of the ground, though, I'm keen to pick up Weedless Gardening as my first step in research!
Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.May Sarton