June 5, 2020

Avante Gardening

I don’t have a real green thumb. Truth be known, my thumbs are black, I’m more like the touch of death for house plants which, in my busy-ness, tend to be neglected on account of their failure to proactively communicate their needs. I’m not proud of it, but someone has to come last in the hierarchy of caring that is my life. Plants provide the least squeaky of all wheels, and like all living things, they tend not to thrive under conditions of neglect.

When we look back on this pandemic as the great pause for reflection that it forced, there is I think both real and intangible “gardening” that leaves clues, symptoms if you will, about how there might be more than plants who are failing to flourish due to lack of attention.

You’ve probably figured out by now that this is not really about gardening or moon-planting and such. But just to manage expectations, I will repeat how very little that I actually know about plants. Maybe very little is overstating things, nothing is probably more accurate. I read about moon-planting in a Women’s Weekly at the doctor’s many years ago.

What I have noticed in isolation, is how shockingly isolated by busy-ness has kept me at times. I think about the days at work where my ‘lunch’ has very literally been the few Maltesers that I could eat with my left hand, while my right hand kept tapping away on the keyboard and mouse. I love the pace – but other things have been left uncultivated.

Obviously, from the above example, self-care is often the second thing to go to the wayside when we are busy. Convenience foods over nutrition, disposable fashion over quality garments that need care and ironing, driving instead of walking, streaming over art…all of these things are choices that favour hard and objectives short-term outcomes over nurture.

I know I am not alone here, that quality-of-life, subjective experiences, I don’t think I’ve ever felt, or had a knowing, about the yearning for these things, all across the Western Hemisphere as we had before Covid-19.

The logical extension of a diminishment in self-care is a breakdown in community. Of course, we can’t extend ourselves to others if we are, as individuals, overextended.

Here is a beautiful story from the New York Times about how the individuals in a community kind of rubbed their eyes during Covid-19 lockdown and saw how disconnected they had become, what they had lost from the quality of life in their efforts to ‘gain’.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/30/technology/bernal-heights.html

Newspapers specifically for children, community gardening (actually gardening), and the rise of hyperlocal artisanal production in communities are patterns that are emerging beyond this one case study. People are cultivating communities. Cultivating their passions. Cultivating their relationships…and a few are taking up gardening, too!

Not me, I am not sure that I will ever have the inclination to get my feet in the dirt, nor can I bear the guilt and shame for the potential murder as history has repeatedly told me will occur, but I have found joy in cultivating other things. Ironically, one of those things has been an appreciation for art and beauty and sharing that with my family.

All of those things marry together, along with some much-needed relaxation time in a show I have started watching with my children on Netflix called The Big Flower Fight, which ironically IS actually about gardening.

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