Gardening is the care and feeding of possibilities.
Today is the first day of Spring, the Vernal equinox. Today is the day when days start being longer than nights. Some of us woke up this morning to frosty windshields and gray skies; some saw signs of Spring. I looked out of my kitchen window and admired my crocuses. Most are blooming: white, dark purple, purple with white stripes, sunny yellow. Some of the tulips are starting to come up – fat green leaves, squat, stout, full of promise – and there are a few slender dutch iris hanging on from a few years ago.
Gardening is the care and feeding of possibilities. When I planted those bulbs they looked more like pebbles than flowers, but I knew what I had and what I wanted, and in the damp and dark of October I put them in the ground and gave growth a shot. I love that feeling of doing a good thing and letting it go, trusting that I’ve set it in motion and nature will take its course.
This time around I got to grow more than the gophers ate, and the deer haven’t (yet) been by to nibble on the buds. I don’t mind sharing, but I do like to see some benefits from my work.
It’s OK with me that I don’t have complete control. Gardening is a little like parenting: you do your best and give them an environment that can help them, and they still behave the way they will behave.
Gardening is an act of faith. At every step, you have both what is and what may be. Every few days I check for signs of life. I hold small, dry seeds and thorny twigs and knobby brown tubers, but I see the possibilities: spinach salads, raspberries, fuchsias frequented by hummingbirds, and a Summer of dahlias… and I live in the here and now, waiting with the wet dirt. Not everything I imagine will come to life, but what I imagine will help me set the stage for what will thrive.
Imagining isn’t enough. Gardening requires investment. No investment, no results. It doesn’t have to be a heavy investment; there will be give and take any time you interact with an environment. You just have to show up to help it happen, and keep adding to the little bit that works without expertise. Gardening can be very low pressure, because it’s open ended and finite at the same time. Crazy beautiful delicious things are possible, or they could flop. Either way, everything has a life cycle and fills the space that it fills. A season only lasts so long, and then it’s over, off the to-do list. Then there will be another season, with another set of opportunities.
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