Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The luxury of being frivolous while the world is in chaos

Reading garden blogs over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen many a moving post or reference to the suffering of the people of Japan. At times I’ve felt rather shallow talking about new plants I’ve acquired, celebrating the springtime return of a favorite plant, or wondering if the shrubs growing in front of my house were worth keeping when these nature-focused people have lost their gardens, their homes, and their loved ones.

Working in the garden last week (through sun and showers) I found myself thinking about what an overwhelming and crippling sense of loss they must be feeling.Then my mind wandered to the other parts of the world where the simple normalcy of life is temporarily interrupted and then on to those people who have never been so lucky as to have simple normalcy…where every single day is a struggle. I am so very fortunate.

A few years after my grandfather died I had the opportunity to plant a vegetable garden in the soil he had worked for so many years. Planting that garden…and the weeding, watering, and harvesting that followed I felt closer to him than I had since we lost him. Closer than I ever had visiting the cemetery where he is buried. In a small way I re-live that feeling every year when I soak and then plant my snap peas early in the spring.

For me working in the garden can be so much more than just pulling a few weeds or making things look pretty. Having a bit of soil to grow something in (whether it’s a bucket, an allotment, a good sized garden, or an acre) is an important connection to nature, your ancestors, and the larger natural world. This is my rambling way of saying my heart aches for the people who have lost their grounding place and whose world is in chaos.

15 comments:

  1. I think appreciating what we have is the secret. When people bitch and moan and take for granted the many, many blessings we have here in America it's like a slap in the face to those who are suffering--really suffering. We have it so good. As I mentioned on my blog, for me remembering the plants from Japan [species Japonica] is a great way for us plant people to remember the citizens of Japan and all they're going through.

    Your words are poignant and heartfelt, Loree.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for writing this Loree -- gardening is the way I find peace in difficult times. And from what I know of Japan during my time there, I know it will be part of how they recover from this horror as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, Loree, for your simple and thoughtful meditation on our bounty in the midst of chaos. Whenever we have time and space to garden, we are indeed fortunate. When I garden, I often think about my mother, from whom I was lucky enough to learn a love of gardening. Although I can no longer share my garden with her, she's a part of every plant I grow and every spade of soil I turn.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is very sad for all the people who are now suffering in Japan, but also reminds me of the millions of people who suffer every day in miserable lives.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautifully said.
    I find it deeply therapeutic working with the earth - it grounds me.
    As Grace mentioned, I now look at all my 'japonicas' and hope for the best for all of those in Japan.

    ReplyDelete
  6. There is a quote from I don't know where that goes "when you live next to the cemetery you cannot cry at every funeral." My interpretation is that you cannot constantly mourn for everyone who suffers. I am not making light of what is happening in Japan, it is horrible and those people are really suffering but I also cannot spend all of my thoughts on it. Gardening is my escape from tragedy, both personal and global.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gardening is touching the native earth. It is touching our ancestors. It is connecting and reweaving our world. Despite the incredibly terribly tragedies the Japanese people have undergone these past weeks, I have to believe they, more than any people on earth, are more grounded and with find that strength to again reconnect to our Mother Earth as spring unfolds this year.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very thoughtful, and it causes me to appreciate being able to just pull some weeds, dead plants, or nurture some new plants these days. I think tragedy and garden therapy are all good and perfectly appropriate, in balance.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I understand completely what you mean. My younger cousin is getting married in a couple of months, and my mom is talking about going shopping to get an outfit for her wedding.

    It's nice, but, I feel at a time in my life, that I just want less. Less stuff. If I can get rid of as much stuff (material possessions) in my life as possible.

    A great thought! I'm paring down, and it takes some time, but I do feel alot better, when I get rid of things, whether it's giving it away or simply throwing it away.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That was beautifully said, and I thank you for it. I sometimes have remind myself that the same forces that cause natural disasters also make it possible for life to grow in our gardens, and on this planet. Degrees make the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for sharing this with us Loree. I have been so overwhelmed by events that I had to stop myself from looking at the reports. Just too much. And yes, how comfortable we are .. but we as gardeners represent an ultimate connectivity and rebirth-of that we can be proud.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Loree,
    Your thoughts touched my soul...and they certainly weren't rambling. You were able to pull several threads together in a personal manner so that all of us who read your musings could move through our day graced with the gift you have given us. Fran

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am not indifferent to the plight of the Japanese. I am not apathetic. I check the news at least twice daily for developments and I have helped in the only way I can for now. But my life has to go on just as they are moving on. Their pace has slowed down but they still move forward which so much better than people who are not suffering but are stagnant. I have heard from friends through emails about how the people in Japan are coping and the stories are just amazing and the people so admirable. Very inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well-said, Loree...you've done a great job of vocalizing how many of us feel, I think. It's hard not to feel a bit of guilt while obsessing over "trivial" things while I know others are suffering all over the world, it certainly puts things in perspective. The thing you really hit on, for me, and I'm sure for others, is the fact that gardening isn't just a hobby or a way to pass time...it's a way to feel connected, to find a center, to be part of the earth, not just OF the earth as well as a connection to our past.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you so much everyone for responding with your heart-felt comments...I really appreciate them all.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. The amount of spam that get's through is incredible, so comment moderation is on. I'll try to approve and post your comment as soon as possible!