Friday, March 16, 2007

A Nonpolitical Friday Garden Story

Because it is snowing outside:

Why I Garden

My secret real reason for gardening is that I am scared of my hairdresser. And of my dentist and other people's elected political representatives. All these people tend to find me faulty, and insist on wagging their forefinger at me while giving sermons on how to improve my hair, teeth or lifestyle. However hard I try, I fail to make them scared of me, their true employer.

Plants don't wag anything at me, don't preach, don't condemn. They may not be scared of me, either, but at least they know their proper place. They never ask me if I knew what I was doing when I trimmed my own bangs. They never talk at all.

Gardens are quiet, healing places, where no-one is interested in the gardeners' bank balances, school grades or family values. We can wear anything that is comfortable, however awful the resulting visual combinations, and not a single plant shudders. We can make the most elementary horticultural mistakes, and the insects simply go on flying, crawling and chewing without even one snide remark or sidelong sneer. And no-one in the garden tries to sell us anything.

Even the most extroverted gardener needs such a respite from the human community. Gardens charge our mental and physical batteries and restore our sense of proportion. And spotting new examples of nature's beauty or bounty makes us wish to share these with others. Our pleasure in the company of people is, paradoxically, renewed by their very absence from the garden.

Some days I go to weed and water in the garden prepared to resign from the human race. Then the garden takes over, the passing time goes unnoticed, and suddenly, it seems, night is falling. As I stow away my tools, tired and hungry, the company of other people is once again welcome. I enter the brightly lit house, ready for dinner, for good conversation and perhaps even for finding a new hairdresser.