An End of a Beginning – An Essay About Opportunities For Self-Assessment

Having watched a weather report that assured warm, sunny weather for the whole week and into the weekend, we made the decision to set out into the ground all the precious plants we had been taking in and out of the house as the whims of weather dictated, not wanting to chance an early freeze on what would be our garden for the year.

One morning, two days after planting them outside, we awoke to see what we had heard as a gentle rain in the night had turned into snow and covered everything.

We went outside and sprayed them with water, which dissipated the thick-flaked wet snow. There was some drooping here and there, but we did not know for sure if there was any damage to the squash, peppers and tomatoes, which were the most vulnerable. By afternoon, we could tell that nothing had been harmed.

The sudden change in the weather prompted us to get our number ten cans out of storage and set them over each plant at night. Finally, the temperatures rose and we were able to take the cans away, but friends down the road were still having freezing nights and had to cover all their plants each night with gunnysacks.

Our new gardens are about ten degrees warmer than our old gardens, which were at the lowest point at the bottom of the hill where katabolic winds brought in and deposited cold air.

It always seems sudden, abrupt in a way, when plants show themselves maturing, beginning the middle of their lives, firmly rooted and racing towards fruition. We “discovered” this one day while watering, leaving us wondering, “When did that happen?”

That thought became a garden lustration that led to the next phase, the “watch it mature” stage.

June also brought two workshops: Basic Rockwork and Strawbale Wall Construction. Each was rewarding and fun. There is something unique that occurs when ten people come together to learn something, it leads to a jovial camaraderie. And, especially after lunch, with on-the-porch-chatter, everyone gets to know the other a bit better.

The hands-on work on someone’s project as a first experience is comforting and encouraging. Being able to do something with unfamiliar elements like rock, cement, wire, and stucco, gives one a feeling of competence by creatively using materials unfamiliar in every day usage.

Suddenly one has acquired a skill. It is also a good opportunity for self-assessment. Reading a book about how to build a straw bale or rock wall is not the same as putting ones hands to the wall. Hands-on also allows a personal assessment as to whether or not one will want to do this again or if one enjoys it.

It is the unknown, the untried, which often halts the ever-seeking inner creativity from avenues of pursuit.

John Brockman recently said, “You are not creating the world, you are inventing it.”

The gardener understands that fiat grows no food. It is through invention, the recombination of what is available to us, that we bring into existence the garden world. We are alluvial alchemists, producing an elixir of life, which is needed and benefits all.

Spring entices us to reinvention, a new beginning of more of this and less of that, new ideas created from past experiences. We look forward to a final stage, knowing that the end only marks the beginning of the next seasons growing journey. For those of us fortunate enough to have hand in soil, there is no need to wait for an end result to know that we can grow.

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