Tuesday, May 28, 2013

daydreaming the future

I have not sat down to the blank screen of my blog for a couple of months now. I have a lot of things to share. First, I will simply catch you up on what I've been doing.

Mostly, I've been in my garden. I should not say "mine" but rather "our" garden since I share it, and the work that goes along, with my husband and a neighbor. Our garden is very big, much bigger than what you would usually find behind an apartment building in a city like Oakland. It has producing plum, peach, apricot, persimmon, and jujube trees.  And lots of square footage for tomatoes, artichokes, lettuce, peas, carrots, radishes, strawberries, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, onions, melons, and potatoes. And flowers, all kinds. Herbs too. It's a rambly garden with multiple levels and a squirrel problem. It has basically taken all spring to re-establish the beds, fight back the constant encroachment of blackberry, morning glory, and bermuda grass, and get things growing.  We've been managing the garden for 8 years and I know for a fact that in the end, the blackberry will win.

Early in the spring, when it was a lot of plain old manual labor, I put on my headphones and listened to podcasts. I can listen to podcasts for hours at a time. My favorites are "WTF," "The Mental Illness Happy Hour," "Wiretap," "Snap Judgement," "Risk!" and "Strangers." I have about ten more that I regularly listen to, and then about 20 more that I drop in on every once in a while.

Then, I realized my head was always in this alternative space, listening in to a disembodied voice. My hands and body were working the garden, but my mind and soul were somewhere else. I took off my headphones.

A lot of what I'm do while I'm in the garden is stand around and look at the landscape. Spacing out. Trying to figure out the best way to work around the limitations and maximize what we have.

As a child, a constant theme from teachers was that I daydreamed "too much."  I'm daydreaming the future, so back off. I quiet my mind, turn off the podcasts and lower the volume on my own personal bullshit in order to fully engage with the garden and do right by it. I enter the garden mind zone, and pay attention only to what is around me.

I've made some mistakes: transplanted stuff that didn't want to be transplanted, ignored encroaching disease in one area, put shady stuff in sunny spots and sunny stuff in shady. I'm learning to not impose my will, but to listen to what the garden wants and needs first. It is not easy for me to stand down like this, but it makes me feel easier, if that makes sense.

The garden is never wrong. Me, I screw up all the time, but the garden doesn't berate me, or tell me I'm an idiot, or kick dirt at me. It should though. It should send me straight to hell for the death I accidentally bring to the garden. But, no. It just pulls me back in to try again.

I will share more next week, maybe even sooner!


  1. beautiful post, Whitney!

    ... I was wondering what the keck my mom was doing when she was spending literraly *hours* in her garden. She told me once it was her therapy of choice.

    I now understand better.

    We all need to take off the earphones, stop multitasking and simply stop and listen. Nature is constantly talking to us, but do we even hear?

    Thank you!

    -Naomi of TeaButterfly

  2. Thank you. This is lovely. And something I needed to read.

    (longtime lurker, first time commenter)

  3. welcome, all lurkers!

    Naomi, it is true that gardening is amazing therapy... and it is also addictive! Feeding a craving while getting therapy... HEAVEN!