A garden is such a bountiful space, I’m in awe of it, marvel often at all that it has to offer! The year before Jasper’s birth we planted the garden but didn’t tend it at all. That was the year I learned that you don’t have to. That a garden is beyond a place to plant vegetables and fruit. It doesn’t need a gardener to enliven it, rather it will enliven the ‘gardener’. That year our plantings limped along and the entire space sprung up with red clover, milkweed, chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, evening primrose, goldenrod; and oh it was intoxicating. We gave up going to hunt for what we’d planted and simply moved through the labyrinth of eight foot tall chicories and towering evening primroses to the center, where we eventually had a bed to sit and be with the garden that had grown itself, to be with all the beings that came fluttering, crawling, buzzing, humming from flower to flower. We harvested next to no ‘food’ but we were well fed all the same, and when asked, “So how’s the garden doing?”, I’d reply, “Abundantly.” We had friends visit and they’d look at the jumbo ‘weeds’ and shake their heads, “You have food growing in there?” We’d walk inside, sit for a spell, and they’d experience what the garden was doing. It was amazing. One of our friends drove up a few times that summer . . . she spent most of her visits just being in the garden.
Since then we’ve shifted how we garden, and sometimes it is we who are gardened. The asparagus goes to fern and a thicket of milkweed, goldenrod, Quenn Anne’s Lace, pokeberry, and chicory fills the beds; each year in different measure. Last year goldenrod was predominant, this year it’s milkweed. We laid out straw pathways so we could get to where we’re planting and aside from a few vagrant docks and dandelions, the wildflowers are keeping their growth either at the edges or in the beds . . . we pull some and leave some. It feels as though when we read the living language round us, we begin to communicate differently, in ways that every ‘body’ understands and when we’re speaking the same language, it’s not that the world suddenly starts to hum and vibrate, it always is, it’s just that we begin to listen and understand it more or less, joining in participation.
I’m made aware of this when a car comes up the driveway, the folks driving are lost, gps told them to go this way and they have no idea where they are, why don’t their cell phones work, how do they get to where they want to go, are they even in Rockbridge County anymore, where are they?? Often they’re edgy and nervous, some of them leave in a hurry, some of them stay a while. All of them reflect back a common thread:when they enter places off the gps, it feels like they’ve dropped out of the known world into unknown territory, yet we are here on this planet simultaneously the whole while long, as has the universe been humming whether we listen it or not.
Yesterday I went to pick zucchini and beans, and the sounds coming from honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, hornets, and three hummingbirds moving about was melodious. They each have their own particular noise, some buzzing some thrumming a bit of whirring mixed up with hovering, and together they make music in motion. Plump black and rust ants march from goldenrod to Queen Anne’s Lace, caterpillars munch on milkweed leaves and dill, butterflies dance about the flowers landing to drink, and there’s food for everyone all in a small little colorful place with eloquence written on the rustling pages of maple leaves flecked in orange.
After picking I stayed in the garden for a while, enjoying musing on literacy with the lively muses. Wondered if the emphasis on literacy for everybody may take away rather than be of service to at an individual level. What expressions that a child wants to utilize energy on get suffocated when they’re not yet interested in becoming literate, on a schedule determined for them from without? While they are developing something else from inside themselves at the time . . . .but are forced to give their energy and attention to decoding alphabetic symbols regardless, before they’re willing to or have generated interest from within. Does something of value get squashed this way? What would happen if not everybody in the nation was literate? Would we see something new and unanticipated rise out instead? Literacy is a tool, it serves those of us who need such a tool. Not everybody may have a need for such a tool, just as not everybody has need of nor knowledge of the use of a potter’s wheel or a tractor. What would happen were we to give children the gift of applying themselves to what they’re drawn to, even when it ‘seems’ to be nothing at all, rather than the ‘gift’ of enforced literacy? Might they be setting themselves up for an unknown forward in their formative time and space?
I mused for a spell, easy to do as though the sun was out it wasn’t swelteringly hot; there’s a slight coolness and clarity to the air now. Crisp as a fresh apple, it has a slight bite that tingles. An awareness flickered: summer’s winding toward something else, so I soaked up the sights and sounds and smells and motivated: to create art with what’s growing now. Got up and walked about, nibbling on a mixture of mint, anise hyssop, and tulsi, chewing and macerating them into tea. The zucchini and beans were joined by a few zinnias added to the basket, some goldenrod stems, a bunch of unripe pokeberry, a sprig of phlox, fragrant nectary Queen Anne’s Lace, a milkweed leaf, two cleome petals with their oddly skunky smell, a bit of tansy, a smartweed plume, red clover leaves, and on the way out orange jewelweed; hummingbirds love dipping their long beaks into these, flying quickly from one dangling gem to the next. Then back inside shaping little scenes of wee folk, expressing gratitude with flowers; though small in number and size, very big food for the heart.