Saturday, August 2, 2008

Midnight is Wrong

It's midnight and I'm starting a sixteen-hour shift. Is that wrong? Yes, it is. Plain wrong. I am not a nocturnal person. But, you know, by getting one of my work days out of the way at night, I get extra daylight hours in my week--which means more gardening!

Well, ideally it means more gardening. What it actually means--more often than not--is more bike-riding, laying around by my windows and reading, and socializing. A lot of socializing. Notice how in the summer all those plants that you planted far apart suddenly get all up in each others' spaces? Stems of one plant growing up through another's foliage, flower stalks falling over from the weight of their blooms (especially after yesterday's rains!), crashing into their neighbors' laps and crushing them in all directions. Morning Glory ("bindweed," I heard someone call it) twining everything together in its effort to get to the top. The hustle for sunshine! Everything that looked so sparsely-planted and lonely in the Spring suddenly turns out to be awefully close together.

As stated: Summer is the social season. It is also the gardening season. It's nice when both can be accomplished at once.

I spent the morning today working in a Seattle farm garden with youth, as a volunteer. We talk while we work, especially when it's rote work. I understand now why, back in the day, a lot of songs were written while working, sometimes about working, sometimes just about life, love, hard life, lost love. There seem to be times in gardening that there is a lot of unspent mental energy available, which can be spent socializing, or in thought, or meditation. Sometimes one person is spending it socializing, while the person they're socializing with is trying to spend it in meditation. Alas! Like the plants, we spread into one another's spaces.

Today we weeded, mostly overgrown grasses out of a long-neglected part of the garden. I have horrible allergies to grass (every part, I think: blade, stem, pollen), but after the rains all the allergens were magically neutralized, so I got down in the grass with pick and hoe and created a lot of weed piles.

When I know I'm going to be working in the garden for only a couple hours, I work very athletically. Aerobically. I don't swing the pick right; I explode with an excess of effort. I'm like Charlie Chaplin doing a John Henry impression. I don't bother doing all the things one does for the purpose of sustaining one's energy for the long haul. I work fast and hard and inefficiently. It's fun! It's also a little manic. My brother, I think, finds it disconcerting. Then again, he's a professional gardener, and half plant, and kind of a bear. His whole being is about conservation of energy, pacing, consistency. We are, in some ways, a pair of opposites. If he's the nucleus, I'm the electron; if he's bear, I'm coyote. If I sometimes run circles around him, he's the first to remind me that they are, well, circles.

Good night!

1 comment:

saralyse said...

beautiful, lapping it up like garden nectar. i love your writing.