LESSONS FROM THE GARDEN
ALANDA GREENE explores the idea of openness and protectiveness against stimuli by a comparison with wearing garden gloves while working in her beloved garden in British Columbia.
My relationship with garden gloves continues to consist of two opposing drives – the need to wear them to protect my hands, and the need for my skin to feel the plants without a barrier as I engage in garden tasks.
Each drive excludes something. In one case, the sensitivity of touch is dulled. In the other, protection of my hands from abrasion, cuts, punctures, dirt and stains is given up.
I see a similar paradox between openness and protectiveness in the experiences of daily living.
Most of the time I wear gloves while working in the garden. Otherwise, my hands are stained with plant juices and my skin is embedded with dirt, as well as marked with cuts and scrapes. Although I scrub and lather at the sink, clean hands are difficult to retrieve. Too many times have I looked down at my fingers while passing a receipt to someone, or playing my guitar in public, to discover with mild horror that my fingers and nails are not clean after all, but embedded with dark brown plant dye that looks like dirt.
I need a more sensitive touch than gloves can give,
to clear this uninvited growth and not disturb
the tiny seedlings that I wish to remain and thrive.
… I see a similar paradox between openness and protectiveness
in the experiences of daily living.
Gloves are not my preference, especially when removing weeds. If not removed early, these weeds will surge ahead of tiny, slow-growing carrots and crowd them out entirely. I need a more sensitive touch than gloves can give, to clear this uninvited growth and not disturb the tiny seedlings that I wish to remain and thrive.
Sometimes, I also just enjoy feeling plants. My sense of touch is dulled by a thick layer of glove. Touching the plants directly slows my work; I attend more carefully and work more precisely.
Transplanting tomato seedlings, I feel the fine furry texture of their stems. The impossible delicateness of celery brings protective and gentle caution, my awe renewed as I wonder, “How can these tiny plants become so strong?” Celery seeds are so small, as are their emerging leaves, their stems more like thin threads than stalks – yet look what they become.
I feel encouraged with the potential of my life, any life, to evolve beyond what is currently evident, in the same way that these celery beginnings give no hint of how they will stand lush and strong in a couple of months. That will happen, however, if …