Monday, July 14, 2014

Zen and the Art of Gardening

Red Cabbage

As I approached the end of April this year I looked out on my old poly tunnel and decided to not garden this year. I was facing two cataract surgeries with the limitations the post op care enforced, and a solo gallery show with more paintings to paint. The garden just seemed too much even if I did not redo the polytunnel.

Besides what is all the lettuce I plant really costing me? Couldn't I just make regular trips to the farmer's market instead of growing my own?  Besides Mother had been the gardener. And living at 8750 ft. does not make gardening easy. Perhaps it is enough to just excel at house plants in the studio.

New Inner tunnel covered by snow

Late spring snows did not help. But the whole lead up and recovery from the first eye surgery left me feeling so helpless. Yes, gardening is frustrating but it does not make me feel helpless. I love having my hands in the dirt, seldom miss a morning or evening walking through the beds and talking to my plants. I love the smell of the herbs like the spicy oregano and lemon balm. And I confess I plant for color like the red cabbage in the lead photo. 

So seduced by one of those $50 or less and just a half day articles on the internet I decided to spend the week just before eye surgery number two building a new high tunnel over the old and adding two raised beds. A friend offered to help in exchange for some of the fruits (veggies) of our labors. And she did. But there wasn't a minute when I thought I had not bitten off more than I could chew. 

New Bow Tunnel

The person who posted the plans had definitely lied even if you considered that I had purchased the plastic mid winter the new higher tunnel was triple the $50 estimate. And it was definitely more than half a day even with a friend helping some. Truth is I am sometimes just too impatient or head strong to wait for help. 

And Mother Nature was being a bitch. I waited days for no wind so I could put the plastic cover on. Days I did not have because of the approaching second surgery. I had cheated with starts but also planted seeds. And it seemed as if everything was just so slow including the warming up of the nights. I installed and turned on the lights in the green house every night in June bringing up that question about just how much this baby lettuce salad I had for dinner last night really cost.

Red Romaine
But it isn't just a salad. It is a gift. And it is art. And my exercise program. And sanity. Or insanity. All the work I did this year will not have to be done next. Maybe new plastic only. I will not have to buy, haul, mix soil to fill two new 2 x 4 foot beds and 10 five gallon buckets of tomatoes. And there will not be two eye surgeries to schedule around. And hopefully not knee, hip or shoulder surgeries. I hope there will be another solo gallery show.

I have learned a lot about me this spring and summer. And a lot about my late mother who died the year she left her garden. Gardening is not about green thumbs but about connectedness to the earth and the elements. Body and mind and spirit unite in a garden.

I have a friend who keeps trying preaching to me her concept of Zen. She wants to sell her house next door and move into a condo. I think I am passing my master every morning when I enter the poly tunnel temple to pet or water or weed my plants.

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