Thursday, April 29, 2010

April is the Cruelest Month

"In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent
a thing is brought forth which we didn't know we had in us."
---Czeslaw Milosz, Ars Poetica

It is said that gardening is an exercise in faith. We plant seed, water, weed, on the belief that a miracle will happen. And when it does, we experience the elation of life both externally with having aided the seeds' growth, and internally when we realize that there are things greater than we are. As the seed grows toward the sun, we, too, grow.

Whitman writes:

Now I am terrified at the Earth! it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of
It distils such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks, its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

--Excerpt from This Compost by Walt Whitman

April is indeed a cruel time. It offers so much hope that will be dashed by October. But it is a kind month too, offering fruitfulness from last year's "fetors".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friends and the Garden

I'd like to discuss the value of gardens. I mean to get past the obvious values: fresh fruits and vegetables, beautiful flowers, shade, stress release, exercise, creativity, solitude peacefulness, energy savings, etc.

I have been seeing A LOT of people lately at the compost site; a lot of regulars, usuals, and first timers alike. Not many of them are from San Francisco, nor are they poets with an interest in French literature. Yet every person coming through our gates has something in common: gardens. Some are starting new gardens, some are old hands; some are revitalizing an old orchard, some are remodeling an inherited garden. Everyone is smiling. Everyone has committed to make the trek to what I call our South Valley Paradise.I don't see that kind of elation in a hospital, or office, or shoe store, or even in a restaurant. Gardeners are naturally happy people.

But there is something more.When I was young and surfing in the Pacific everyday, I was always struck by the camaraderie that seemed inherent in the lifestyle.Old guys, young guns, lawyers, bums, long boarders, short boarders, single fin, three fins; we all knew something that the "landlubbers" didn't know. The "pure stoke" of playing in the ocean transcended our differences. I would have choked back then to make this comparison, but gardening is akin to surfing.

Here at the site, we have seen three or four groups of soldiers recently. I don't agree nor envy the lifestyle they've chosen. In fact, along with over-population, I believe the military is THE cause of all our problems both domestically and internationally. But individually, in the quest for a good tomato, these guys are alright.

Most of my lasting relationships encompass gardens. I remember a picture of a woman on her porch. Her pain and worries were so large to us at the time. But in this picture a rampant party of cosmos overwhelmed the stress and she looks happy. My wife gave me a large bouquet of daisies after we first met. We celebrated my father-in-laws life under a new built arbor freshly planted with honeysuckle.

As I grow older, I find that real, deep, meaningful relationships come fewer and farther between; the spaces now filled with work, children, bills. I don't find the time to lay open my deep concerns nor admit that I've failed at something or someone. But given the right circumstances, smothered with a healthy dose of garden talk, I find that there is time and a real desire to share openly and honestly. I am developing a new friendship with a fellow gardener. Through mulch, tansies, and grand hoop-house dreams, we have broken the wall of friendly chit-chat. We have admitted failure and discussed tribulations. Mohandas K. Gandhi is quoted as saying: "To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." Amid the lettuce and the weeds, my new friend has allowed me to reach an understanding that I am human.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Week After Easter Radio

I hope no one forsook their Easter repast to tune in last week to hear our Fearless Leader on the radio; it was postponed. Now you will have to suffer through what I have to say. But I would still urge you all to take a listen as there appears to be several other extremely knowledgeable and friendly people enlisted to partake in the hour long broadcast.
Sunday April 11th, 2010. channel 1550 am from 6-7pm. I invite you to call: ask me a question.