“A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.” ― Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education
You may recall that last year around this time I lost myself in the tiny little community garden where my mother lives. I fully intended to volunteer there in the Spring but they wouldn’t have me. Not because I wouldn’t work hard or didn’t know what I was doing but because it was theirs. They needed to get dirty and dig and ache the next day all on their own. To feel alive, to feel productive, to sense accomplishment and to make days pass pleasurably.
Today was a perfect day to return to that garden and capture its beauty and the progress of the gardeners. I thought I was alone but a few minutes in there was a man standing next to me pointing and escorting me around his plots of land. He is Korean, he didn’t speak much English, we understood each other perfectly.
Michael Pollan believes the gardener cultivates wildness, but he does so carefully and respectfully, in full recognition of its mystery.” And so my new friend started me at the hedge of Cosmos. These can be invasive plants the kind I used to find everywhere in my garden, volunteers they are called. But here they are a carefully tended hedge, my friend showed me the exact start and end and how he uses them to protect his plants from the wind. He knelt down to blow on the baby lettuce beside the hedge.
Come, he said. We worked our way through peppers, and tomatoes, and as we went along he showed me all the little curly tendrons that make for plants mobility. They wrap themselves around anything that will propel them and anchor them in place at the same time. I find I’m in love with these little squiggles and kept snapping away. He was delighted with everything he showed me pointing and clapping.
He has even taken over the back end of the school next door’s lot on the other side of the fence. So he became very excited as he pointed through the fence and said, in English, Pumpkin. I was overjoyed at this hidden treasure and clapped with him. He couldn’t help but laugh, it’s ok, I’m used to it.
Then he said, look up. And there in the trees were eggplants, hanging from the vines that had worked their way up the tree trunk and branches. The tree hadn’t flourished in years but was now lending itself to these vines. I must have lit up, he clapped and I snapped.
That was the end of the tour it seemed as he walked away, he must have tired and laid down on a grassy spot near the Cosmos for a few minutes while I continued on to look at some of the other plots. I poked around the other well-tended plots and had a conversation with a little boy and lost track of time. When I turned back my friend had gone inside. You know I had to see what it looked like from that point of view too…looking up from that grassy spot.
“As I leave the garden I take with me a renewed view, And a quiet soul.” ― Jessica Coupe