Magical Gardening: The Care and Feeding of Self
Article ID: 8441
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,637
Times Read: 3,956
Author: Stephanie Arwen
Posted: May 1st. 2004
Times Viewed: 3,956
My magical garden has been in my head for years. I can see it laid out in my backyard in a pentagram. One triangle has my kitchen herbs. Another holds herbs for medicinal purposes. The third has flowers for cutting and drying. In four I will plant my vegetables and the fifth will be home to my mints. I will ring the entire thing with stones so that when I sit on the bench I have there, I can rest my feet. It will be blessed under an Earth Full Moon with stones buried for energy and growth.
I thumb through seed catalogs to carefully dog-ear pages that hold plants and seeds that will one day sprout in rich dark earth. I will then harvest those dear little plant beings with a moon-shaped bolline and place them lovingly in a flat basket that I carry on my arm. All of this will be done under the light of the full moon of course. And I shall wear a white flowing gown over my unbound body and bare feet. My hair will float just so in the light breeze as the fairies gather 'round me.
In reality, my very first garden didn't even come close to this. It was 1985. That was the year I dedicated as well, even though I had been studying since 1980. But I wanted a garden. Off to the K-Mart I went. I decided I should start small, so I brought home two jalapeno plants and two tomato plants. I stopped just short of naming them as I planted the four just off the alley of my home in Bowling Green, Ohio. They grew very well even during the drought that year. I carried water out to them every other day. And I called my mother every week to ask her questions. My mother could make sticks grow. I only got a portion of her green thumb, I fear. But I did have peppers and tomatoes. I gave away the peppers I didn't eat, but coming home in the afternoon to fresh tomatoes was a delight! And my own green tomatoes to fry up in cornmeal made me a happy Belle.
My second attempt became a glorious joke in Lansing, Michigan when I adopted an urban gardening plot that was 10' x 10'. My lover and I had a square in front of another couple we knew. They sent me to the store to buy tomatoes and peppers. I bought a full flat of tomatoes and half a flat of peppers. I gave away what I could but I didn't want any of the tomato plants to die so I planted a half of a flat of tomatoes in the center in about a 2' x 2' square. Other non-gardeners will wonder why the gardening readers are now holding their sides from laughing too hard. To say I crammed too many tomatoes into that small section is an understatement.
But from that garden, I learned about the magic of gardening. I found that digging in the dirt close to other people who aren't like you makes you like them. You find a camaraderie in discussing how best to rid yourself of slugs who are making early salads for themselves out of your baby lettuce. For the record, slugs love beer and will happily die in traps baited with this. I guess they have a wee drop o' Celtic blood in them, as do I. You also find that the commonality of loving growing things crosses religions religious and sexual identity boundaries. It really does become something bigger than the individual parts. That taught me a lot about my own path.
I also discovered that if you speak to the elderly woman on the porch across from the garden you will hear her name (Miss Rosie is what everyone calls me, child). She will tell you how she watches your garden for you so "those bad hoodlum children" don't steal you blind. And she will bless you with a smile of such delight when you tell her that's okay, you can't eat it all anyway. And you remember to drop a basket of veggies off to her every few days since she can't get across the street "the way I used to and all the boys would be whistling."
I learned that gardening can bring love from the earth straight into your home. My lover and I would pick peppers, onions, peas, tomatoes (the ones we could reach... the ones in the middle of the Tomato Jungle From Hell were left for the birds who seemed to love them very much) and other treats to take them home to cook up in our version of ratatouille. We discovered alota lot about each other in those days of gardening.
I had to leave that garden behind before my okra was ready to pick. Luckily a good friend promised to tend my garden and eat my okra. Still, it would have been nice to see the okra growing. It has a lovely purple flower that was such a surprise to me. You wouldn't expect such an ugly produce to come from such a delicate thing. But there is a magic in that as well. Sometimes what we see as ugly just needs to be looked at in a different way.
I am gardening again here in Denver, Colorado. Another urban garden project that is 10' x 10'. I know I won't do as many tomatoes, but what I will plant remains a mystery to me. I guess I will go stand in the middle of the soft tilled earth and listen. For the earth will speak to me about what it wants grown there. It will whisper of tomatoes and okra and peppers and squash. I will take a piece of paper and map it all out. Then I will smile as I crumple that paper up. I never follow a plan. My gardens lead me into new places. I wonder where this one will lead me.
Guess it is time to take up the hoe and the shovel. I'll grab the dog to walk the three blocks to my little piece of dirt. If you don't think you are a gardener, maybe you are just like me and need to make mistakes and learn to love them as I did. I wish you joy and growth on your path. Don't forget that sometimes planting too many tomatoes is good for the birds, even if your neighbors giggle at you.
Location: Austin, Texas
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