Are You A Gardener?

November 4, 2012 · 2 comments

By virtue of proximity, my camera of choice often turns out to be my phone.

I rarely upload those images to my computer, relegating them instead to the category of a quickie “upload to Facebook” or “text to loved one.” They’re the point-and-shoot touchstones of my life, short hand for “Here’s what I’m up to right now,” or “Can you believe this?!”

They aren’t usually moments that inspire me to run for either of the Nikons, and without my phone sitting nearby (which it often isn’t, as those who would like to chat already know), the images wouldn’t exist. Also, I don’t normally consider the subjects blog worthy, so for the most part, the images live a quiet life in the photo folder on my phone.

This is why I have a small, almost forgotten archive of a wonderful summer that wouldn’t have seen the light of a post had it not been for settling in, wine in hand, on the north porch on Tuesday for a phone call that went unanswered, and the epiphany I had had an hour earlier that, yes, I actually am a gardener.

I have the laundry issues to prove it.

The story, nutshelled:

A few weeks ago, a woman asked me, “Are you a gardener?” I fumbled and bludgeoned my way through an answer, stumped in the moment by the myriad unclear specifications inherent in the question.

Do I grow all–or any–of our household vegetables? (Yes, until early in the season a week-end camping trip nuked all the tomato plants that hadn’t been sufficiently hardened for the heat.)
Is my iris bed pristine? (No: there was so much inexplicable lovely grass there this year, it looked like I had carefully planted and lovingly watered it.)
Do I have ANY idea at all what we’re doing with the placement, pruning, or pollinating of the  nine fruit trees we planted in our Hardiness Zone 3 environment this year? (Nope… basically just winging it here, with the occasional mad dash to Wikipedia to find out what we should have done six-weeks earlier.)

Clearly, as ranked by depth of knowledge or by comparison to the accomplishments of others, I am not a gardener.

However, as I knelt in in the cool dirt of the iris bed this week, yanking out the dried leaves of this season’s glorious offerings, marveling at the lumpy brown root system that produces such spectacular beauties year after year, I felt connected to that miracle in a profoundly satisfying way. I realized that for me, the answer to her question lies exactly there.

Yes, I am a gardener, because there’s a specific part of me that’s more alive, grateful, and invigorated when I’m doing it than when I’m not. When my hands are in dirt or are wrapped around clippers pruning an ancient lilac tree, doing my small bit to help amazing things grow, my soul hums to a tune I can’t hear in any other place in my world.

I now know the answer to a bunch of other questions as well, such as:

“Are you a writer?”
“A photographer?”
“A baker? Musician? Dancer? Runner?”

Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I wanted to remember that concept, and this blog is a great way for me to chronicle such things. It’s just that I didn’t have a camera of any kind on hand for the moment it occurred to me, and for better or worse, the rule around here seems to be: no photo, no post. But then I found myself sitting in the late afternoon sun with a Big New Idea, stains on my jeans, and a little multifunction camera in my hand.

One mondo upload of forgotten iPhone images and some encouraging nudges from readers (“Have you died or what?!!”) later, I’m planning a daily blog posting this week, each featuring one or two of these touchstones, and the ideas and stories they contain.

And yes, I’m also a blogger, again.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristie Pham November 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Yay! Glad to have another thought-provoking, enjoyable post to read today.


rickandkathy November 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Thanks, Kristie! My motto is, “If you can’t be hilarious, at least give ’em something to chew on.”


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