While I was gardening

The art of gardening and the science of life.


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Turtles all the way down.

Who do I thank for this – all this?  And how?

Thank you for a night sky so filled with stars there is no room for words.

Thank you for the beauty of planet earth and its power.

Thank you for rain storms that flood barren landscapes denuded by fire.

Thank you for broken bones, broken hearts, broken lives.

Thank you for the stranger who listens and the friend who speaks.

Thank you for knowledge of eukaryotes and DNA and of the mucky primal soup.

Thank you for myths and religion and for superstitions.

Thank you for beauty and ugliness.

Thank you for peacemakers, and for those who make war.

Thank you for mathematics and for failing tests.

Thank you for retakes.

Thank you for butt-kicking coffee, and a cold beer on a hot summer day.

Thank you for decisions so difficult they break your life, for the strength to make those decisions, and the realization that they are good.

Thank you for children, for spouses, and for time alone.

Thank you for isolation, for loneliness, for walking away.

Thank you for honesty and for lies, and wisdom gained from the chasm between.

Thank you for health, for illness, for death and birth.

Thank you for the privilege of aging.

Thank you for God, for the Buddhas, for Jesus, and for the Satan.

Thank you for atheists and for true-believers.

Thank you for love and for hate, but not for indifference.

Thank you for acceptance.

Thank you for turtles – turtles all the way down.

Thank you.

 


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A Reason for Optimism, Part II – any place will do.

No doubt you have seen plants growing in unusual places – through cracks in streets, sidewalks, and driveways, in the scoop of a trowel left behind in a garden, on an unintentionally green roof, on old fences, on downed logs, on masonry, or through the siding of abandoned buildings.  Many plants will grow where only their very basic, minimal needs are met.  A walk through an old neighborhood will present the observer with a wide array of tenacious hardy plants thriving (or, at least, growing) in such unusual places and in such peculiar conditions that you can’t help but wonder how.  Some years ago, I saw a long healthy string of field bindweed (Convolvulus spp.) thriving on a windowsill – no nearby soil to be found.  I was impressed but not surprised.

On my exercise route, I have watched the progress of a young pine growing in a unique place.  About 10 years ago, a dead tree was removed from the street-side of a large, well-manicured yard.  (The tree had died from years of incorrect and unnecessary pruning.)   A 2-foot tall stump was left behind.  A few annuals would be planted around the base of the stump each spring/summer, but the stump was left intact.  After approximately 3 years, I noticed a tiny pine tree growing from a crack in the middle of the stump – right on top.  I was amused by the tough little tree and wondered if the children who lived there had found the seedling somewhere and moved it to the stump.  The family moved away before I had the opportunity to ask them.

When new owners moved in to the house, I was afraid that they would remove stump and seedling from their yard in their new landscaping plan, but the stump and its occupant remained in place.  Apparently, they appreciated the uniqueness of their little tree enough to allow it to live.  Over time, the young pine developed a sturdy trunk, splitting the old stump right down the middle and creating for itself a protective covering for its young bark.  A good home for a youngster.

Now it is a healthy tree, between 6 – 7 feet tall (on the garden side), and presents a unique and interesting focal point in an otherwise unimaginatively landscaped front garden.  I take a moment to inspect the tree on a monthly basis, and I am always encouraged.  Plantsmen and women with much more knowledge and experience than I tell me that regardless of how we damage our environment, something green will survive.

And, I think they’re right!

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