I’m reading through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle right now.
It’s slow going since my little one is nursing in sprints. I can’t blame her. There is a lot of action that goes on around here.
It’s a book that is insightful, entertaining with its wit, educational, and inspiring all wrapped up into a neat package. Complete with a few menu plans and tasty looking recipes. I appreciate her perspective on most issues. (We come from different world views as she sometimes appeals to an evolutionary perspective. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater though.) She makes a good case against veganism. And she has a passion for this lifestyle that I can identify with that is manifested in quotes like this.
Instead of the normal modern custom of working for money that I constantly exchanged for food, we worked directly for food, skipping all the middle steps. Basically this was about efficiency, I told myself- and I still do, on days when the work seems as overwhelming as any second job. But most of the time that job provides rewards far beyond the animal-vegetable paycheck. It gets a body outside for some part of every day to work the heart, lungs, and muscles you wouldn’t believe existed, providing a healthy balance to desk jobs that might otherwise render us chair potatoes. Instead of needing to drive to the gym, we walk up the hill to do pitchfork free weights, weed-pull yoga, and Hoe Master. No excuses. The weeds could win.
It is also noiseless in the garden: phone less, meditative, and beautiful… Nothing is more therapeutic than to walk up there and disappear into the yellow-green smell of the tomato rows for an hour to address the concerns of quieter, more manageable colleagues. Holding the soft, vinyl limbs as tender as babies’ wrists, I train them to their trellises, tidy the mulch at their feet, inhale the oxygen of their thanks.
Like our friend David who mediates on Creation while cultivating, I feel lucky to do work that lets me listen to distant thunder an swatch a nest of baby chickadees fledge from their from their hole in the fencepost into the cucumber patch. Even the smallest backyard garden offers emotional rewards in the domain of the little miracle. As a hobby, this one could be considered bird-watching with benefits.
Every gardener I know is a junkie for the experience of being out there in the mud and fresh green growth. Why? An astute tomato therapist might diagnose us as codependent and sign us up for Tomato-Anon meetings. We love our gardens so much it hurts. For their sake we’ll bend over till our backs ache, yanking out fistfuls of quack grass by the roots as if we are tearing out the hair of the world. We lead our favorite hoe like a dance partner down one long row and up the next, in a dance marathon that leaves us exhausted. We scrutinize the yellow beetles with black polka dots that have suddenly appeared like chickenpox on the bean leaves. We spend hours bent to our crops as if enslaved, only now and then straightening our backs and wiping a hand across our sweaty brow, leaving it striped with mud like some child’s idea of war paint. What is it about gardening that is so addicting?