I spent most of last week around green and growing things, working side by side with a lot of people who make it possible for those things to be green and growing…and not brown and dead. I’m not much of a farmer and I’ve definitely inherited my mother’s black thumb when it comes to indoor plants. To date, I’ve offed one Norfolk Island pine (lovingly called Felix), an oregano plant, three pots of chives and an attempt at cilantro. A certain aloe plant is only hanging on because it thrives on neglect.
Strange thing is, I love to be around things that are growing. I would even go so far as to say that I need to be near green plants. There is something about dirt and roots and leaves and tentative blossoms that is just astonishing. And the chance to have a very small part in helping things grow is awe-inspiring and deeply refreshing to my soul. I can’t quite put my finger on why I find weeding or wielding a scuffle hoe quite so amazing, but I have a couple of guesses.
One thought is that productivity is essential to my sanity and well-being. Not productivity in the post-Industrial Revolution sense in which a human being is reduced to a machine and expected to work 2000+ hours a year. And enjoy it. I don’t think that’s particularly satisfying, but I also don’t like being a lump in a desk chair and, to be honest, that is increasingly what I feel like lately. I’m much more interested in the chance to produce, that is, to put things together and bring forth something worthwhile. I think the knowledge that I was producing better growing conditions for a few beans and onions and melons this week satisfied that need.
Another idea is that I get a kick out of being a part of creating, of bringing something into existence. I could give you a whole theological discourse on why I think that’s true, but not now. I think it’s enough to say that plants are, if nothing else, a stunning view of creativity. Not to exaggerate, but those first green shoots that emerge from freshly turned earth could give Caravaggio a run for his money. They’re a beautiful example of nearly nothing becoming something.
Now, I know there’s all sorts of chemical processes involved and a very scientific explanation for how a bean seed becomes a bean stalk then becomes more and more beans. I’m sure there’s also some scientific explanation for a chemical process that produces my sense of satisfaction when I’m gardening.
I’m just not that interested in chemical processes. Like any good postmodern gal, I’m content with my own experiences of producing and creating life in the fields this week and I’ll continue to enjoy the sight of that green grass growing all around. So long as it doesn’t choose to grow too, too close to the onions…