There’s a mystery rash on my right arm – a parting gift from the sowthistle, phlox and goldenrod I ripped out of the ground two days ago. Each gardener forms a style that sits somewhere between super formal and the illusion of ‘meadow’ but regardless, to garden is to chop, uproot, pitch, rip, trim, mow and prune. It is an ongoing negotiation, in my case, between what grows here naturally and so very well, and what I want to grow that needs room and protection to flourish. Natural growth negotiates with me by growing. When I want to make a point, I use violence.
There’s been a great deal of gardening violence this spring – in answer to the overwhelming growth of native plants (new and marvelous groundcover, carpets of oxalis, patches of wild daiseys that glow in the dark- I LOVE them!), I have removed my perennials from three old gardens and centralized them so that these things can take over. Shovel, pitchfork, undignified exposed roots… the terror of transplant.
So, you see. Even though I fully acknowledge that what grows here naturally will always trump what I do, my role is for the most part, the destroyer. I have only the illusion of control, and in reality the very best I can do here is try not to interfere too much. This is also impossible.
I can think of macrocosms to reflect this small gardening situation of mine – The Harper Government is to Canada what I am to my garden (although I suspect he has not found his humility yet – you think?). My husband is to his business what I am to my garden (I know he understands humility, which is a big part of his success)….
The point is that all acts, all choices, all directives are done and made and given in the context of something greater than the act, choice or directive. They can only be catalytic, in the long term, because we are not MEANT to be in full control. We are meant to influence, to support growth in some directions, and discourage it in others – but always with the understanding that there is much we do not and cannot understand at work, and we could be wrong.
Too often I fall into the trap of believing I’m in full control – of my work, my playing, my goals, my house, my chosen direction – that if I just work a little harder, get a bit more done each day, these things will remain secure and well-defined, and the long-term will be well-served.
Mostly this happens in the Winter months, when there’s no garden to remind me of the greater picture.
Then always, usually around midsummer, the jungle takes over, the lists get longer, the tasks get more complex, the social and emotional requirements more frequent and I realize that there is no such thing as security; there is only growth – and I do not control it.
The only thing I can be in command of is my own self. Command, as opposed to control, because if there’s no room for revision, introspection and transformation, then nothing at all can be done.
As Dan McGee puts it, we need to “Flower, for fuck’s sake.” This is utterly, entirely unquestionably impossible of course, because we have so many other things to do.
And then we consider the peonies.
Be well, y’all.