The point I'm making is that gardening isn't a prepackaged and pristine activity. It can get messy. Here's an example: You head out for a brief weeding session wearing your garden gloves. Twenty minutes later the gloves are off (because they never quite let you get a good grip on intransigent weeds), and three minutes after that your nails look like you've been digging drainage tunnels with your bare hands.
It's a wonder anyone ever grabs a trowel to break ground outdoors -- or is it?
Gardening may not be tidy -- or easy -- or one of those activities that provides instant gratification, but it is transformative. It's as much a journey of discovery as it is an exercise in suburban horticulture.
It may be that the world just looks nicer when seen through a filigree of leaves, or that buying a plot of land doesn't make you feel like you really own it, but planting a tree there does. It could also be that the sensate delights nature offers can become so sanitized by modern living that being able to bask in the delicate fragrance of a freshly opened, dew moistened blossom is worth all the other aggravations.
A while back, I shared a fellow blogger's list of reasons to love gardening. Here are mine:
- You'll never wish for rain with more ardent passion (or appreciate it as much) as when you have a garden.
- The seasons will become much more than quarterly checkpoints on a calendar. They'll have immediacy, depth and scope.
- Terms like "barometric pressure" won't sound fussy and complicated. They'll sound fascinating (well, interesting).
- You'll begin to suss out portents in falling leaves, severe clear evenings, wind direction and cloud shapes, making the world a more interesting place to ponder and engage.
- Nature won't be something "out there." Nature will be everywhere.
- You may still pitch your banana peels (apple cores or potato peelings) in the trash, but you'll also begin to think of them as wasted opportunities to compost. Reuse, repurpose and recycle are major mantras of the green movement, and thinking green is the first step to a better world.
- You'll learn to love what you grow -- whether you though you'd like the taste that much or not. Pride is the best spice around, even when dealing with turnips.
- You'll develop a persistent fondness for the honey bee, worm, ladybug and even the praying mantis (that bloodthirsty darling).
- One wonderful day, you'll plant a dry, unassuming seed and realize, perhaps for the first time, that the power, complexity and downright majesty necessary to produce that very plant in that exact way was waiting to quicken in a vessel no larger than the head of a pin.
- On that day or another like it, you'll stand in the middle of your garden and, with a frisson of surprise, hear green things rustling and growing around you -- and won't that be grand.
- Because of your work in the garden, you'll reconnect with things you may not have thought about since childhood (rain festooned spider webs, firefly light shows, leaves staining the wind), only now you'll revisit them with wise old eyes and accord them the respect they deserve.
- And here's my favorite: After a season in the garden, you'll look out and see more in that green space than you've ever seen before -- not necessarily because the garden has changed, but because you have.