Friday, March 28, 2008

Beginning Gardener

I have been gardening 20 years. As a “beginning gardener”, I started out with what I could now call “Glinda’s little plan for the redesign of Nature”. As I look back, that was more than a little pompous of me. At the time, I was willing to spend dollars, time, energy, chemicals to surround myself and my family with my own personal definition of gardening beauty. I was long on physical energy and a little short on smarts.

Enter Marcia Melberg. Marcia, our neighbor across the street when we lived in North Dakota, became my gardening mentor extraordinaire. She believed any plant which would not survive the wild variations in North Dakota climate and was subject to diseases and pests, just didn’t really belong there.

Once again, I was a beginning gardener. I took her little pearls of gardening wisdom and experience, and began to reshape my knowing, my plan, and my garden. Chief among them was the planting of indigenous varieties and hardy robust heirloom plants. These plants wanted to be in the place I also called home. Gardening became a lot more enjoyable and a lot more fun.

Enter Native American views on Nature. Over time, I came to know that earlier “Gardening Glinda’s” had brought unexamined views of my culture into my garden. I was practicing like everyone else in my immediate world. I came to know that my culture believes Humans are both separate from Nature and Master Manipulators of Nature. Over time, I began to see that these belief systems got me and my fellow Humans into a lot of trouble in Nature. Was there more?

I began to seek everything I could find to examine other belief systems about our relationship with Nature. Native American (or rather Indigenous) views began to draw me in. I began to see Humans as part of Nature and the interconnected web of life. Once again, I became a beginning gardener. With every step, my garden and I began to take on a different spirit. It and I began to glow.

I walk in my garden and all of Nature differently now. I am filled with awe, humility, and perhaps even grace.

I now know that when I was confronted with those little challenges in the garden, it was not Nature crying out for the newest chemical from the garden center and my culture’s industrial complex. Rather, Nature was rearing her robust head and offering me, her student, yet another teaching, another opportunity to learn and grow.

With our move to the farm, we are greeted by new soils, climate, plants, diseases, weeds, bugs. Once again, I am a beginning gardener. The more I know, the less I feel like I know and the more questions that I have. On 2 evenings this week, I had wonderful opportunities to hear from Jennifer Schutter, a horticulturist with the University of Missouri Extension Service, who could help me on my quest to know the special Nature of this place.

With each new day, I am once again a beginning gardener. I walk a new path with new questions and new knowing. I am more awake and more aware than I once was. I eagerly open to the infinite wonders that Nature opens to me next. Is that not how it is supposed to be?

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