Overrun By Weed Creep

thegardener

 

horse manure composted garden

 

…all I know is that we must cultivate our garden…
~Voltaire from Candide

 

gardenrows

 

This year, once again, we’re late getting our garden in — there have been too many other things happening in our work and home life to even think about getting the garden in.  Starting a garden in June is not something I recommend to anyone.  It requires bushwhacking to make a suitable bed for the seeds.

Thankfully, my now newly retired husband — normally part-time farmer now full-time — was up to the job.

The weeds, never discouraged by cool rainy weather, have instead been emphatically encouraged. They grow with exuberance, happily seeding themselves, thank you very much. The garden plot had become a veritable forest to contend with before the soil could be prepared for seeding.

My husband set to work on the jungle on hands and knees, digging into the turf of weeds, loosening their grip, pulling them out, shaking off the clinging clumps of dirt from their roots and turning over fresh soil to dry in the sun under a fresh dressing of warm composted manure.  Along with creating multiple trenches for our vegetable seeds and starts, we planted prayers that there was still enough time left in the growing season to actually bear a harvest.

I admit there are plenty of times my life feels like our neglected garden plot.  If not kept tended, if not exposed to enough warmth and light, if not fertilized with the steaming loam from a well-composted manure pile, if not kept clear of the unwanted weeds that take hold and grow no matter what the weather conditions, there can be no harvest of value whatsoever.  I will accomplish nothing other than sustaining self-sowing weeds for the next generation to battle.

I leave behind a life unrecognizable as a source of nurture as it is overrun by weed creep.

Each year we’re determined to do better but we know we’re running out of time and gardening seasons. It isn’t just the resultant sore back and dirty fingernails that serve as reminders of the hard work of tending one’s life like one’s soil.  It is that burst of sweetness that comes from eating the first fresh peas, the sharp tang of a radish straight from the ground, the bowl of greens unsullied by chemicals, the onions, potatoes and squash stored away in the root cellar for winter consumption.

Most of all, it is the satisfaction of knowing we accomplished something wonderful with our own hands — guided gently by the ultimate Gardener who won’t allow a few weeds to overrun us.

 

beanplantA

 

squashsprouts

 

weedyradishes

 

beansprout

 

weeder

 

 

 

Homesick at Home

homeaprilevening

Solastalgia–a pining for a lost environment or a state of homesickness when still at home.  This word is derived from solacium (“comfort”) and algia (“pain”) and coined by Professor Glenn Albrecht in Australia in his research in Environmental Studies.  He has been studying Australian farmers displaced by climate changes that have rendered their land and homes uninhabitable dust bowls.  Their despair is losing not just their livelihoods but more emphatically, the familiarity and solace of surroundings lasting for generations of family members.  They become lost souls at home.

It is easy to dismiss talk of “home”  in this modern day as sentimental hogwash.  When we can travel globally in a matter of hours and via computer can arrive in anyone’s backyard, living room or even bedroom, “home” seems an outmoded concept.

Yet human beings thrive on predictability, stability and familiarity.   When home no longer resembles home,  when the birds no longer sing as they once did, the native flowers no longer bloom, the trees no longer move in the breeze, where can we seek solace and comfort?

We are homesick right in our own back yards, if there is still a back yard left to dwell within.

As a child, one of my favorite books was Virginia Lee Burton’s “Little House”, written in 1942, about a cottage built sturdy out in the countryside to last for generations of one family.

The Little House by Virginia Burton
The Little House by Virginia Burton

” The Little House was very happy as she sat on the hill and watched the countryside around her.  She watched the sun rise in the morning and she watched the sun set in the evening.  Day followed day, each one a little different than the one before… but the Little House stayed just the same.”

As the years go by, more houses are built near by and then a town surrounds the cottage, and finally it is engulfed in the noisy, smelly, sooty, smoky city.

The Little House by Virginia Burton
The Little House by Virginia Burton

Eventually a great-granddaughter finds the Little House and moves it out far into the countryside to become “home” once again.

littlehousefinal

Voltaire reminded us to cultivate our own garden and more recently, Joni Mitchell observed:  “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”   How many live somewhere that looks like it did 20, 60, 100 years ago?   How many would recognize our childhood homes if we drove by now?   How will our children remember “home”?

I have found one cure for solastalgia —  create home where you are and where your people might be for generations to come.  One of the most effective ways is to plant bulbs, bushes, flowers and trees.  Again and again.  This cure is as old as Johnny and his appleseeds or the French fable “The Man Who Planted Trees” about the shepherd who restored an entire valley by planting acorns.

It has to do with restoring life on the land.  Home is more than just the boards and doors and windows and fireplaces.  It is the earth we steward and the care we provide.

Solace is available for the homesick because of the capability of our hands and hearts.

The Man Who Planted Trees: