FOR BRANT NEWS
“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~ Mary Engelbreit
The experience of gardening is much deeper than a trip to the gym or flying a kite.
A garden is our single greatest opportunity to connect with the natural world around us. Make no mistake: we are a part of a larger whole. As David Suzuki likes to remind us, we are animals, even though we live much of our lives in denial of this fact.
This is the start of a new year. The timing is perfect for a little reflection and for a deeper conversation with the garden that I live with. Come spring, there is scarcely the time to contemplate what it means to cultivate, sow, plant, nurture and harvest. All I want to do is get the heck out there and turn off the rest of the world.
With this in mind, I have made some promises to myself and, by extension, to my garden. Here is my position on the subject for 2013.
I will listen more
When I go into the garden, I defer the control of my environment to passing traffic, a train moving in the distance and, oh yes, birdsong, wind passing through tree tops and, if I am really lucky, the buzz of a honey bee or hummingbird finding something of interest in a nearby flower.
This year, I am going to be more attentive to such things. I will take more time to absorb the music of nature. I will turn off my cell phone. I will leave the power equipment in the shed whenever I possibly can in favour of a rake, a hoe, a walk-behind, reel-type lawn mower and the myriad other hand tools that can “do the job” with a modicum of greater physical effort and time.
I will observe more
The fish in my pond rise up to the water’s surface when I pass, a trained response to the approach of the man with the food nuggets. When my koi and gold fish arrive to say “hello,” I will take a little more time to marvel at their colours and notice their amazing movement.
There was the tiniest of bird nests in one of my dwarf apple trees this past summer. I only noticed it when I drove past it on the ride-on lawn mower and it brushed against my shoulder. It belonged to a finch mother-in-waiting who was more than attentive.
Next year, I will get off the ride-on mower and spend more time wandering through my apple orchard without any specific purpose, other than just doing it.
I will share more
This new year, I am taking the time to look around me. Who can benefit from my garden? As my vegetable garden grows and matures throughout the season, I bring the excess produce to my buddy Ted for him to sell at his deli. I don’t charge him for it. He sells some of it right off the shelf and the money is turned over to the local food bank.
This year, I will ask Ted to make a list of the veggies that are of most use to him and I will plan the garden after his wishes, instead of planting what I like to grow.
And, finally, I plan on sharing more with readers. I believe that sharing my experience can encourage readers to overcome fears of failure, to pick up a trowel and give it a try, to get their knees dirty and feel good about it, to experience the experience of gardening in a fuller way. Then, perhaps, all of us will have made progress in 2013. And our connection to the real world around us will be that much better.
Visit Mark Cullen’s website at www.markcullen.com.