Monday, July 16


I find myself writing a lot about tragedy. I promise, it's not because I feel I lead a tragic life. But I believe that all humans experience them on a constant basis and that brings us closer together.

Today though, I lost just a little morsel of faith in the human race.

I look out at my garden and admit that I understand my flowers and green foliage more than I do most of my friends. In fact, I might even like them better. There are small plants and large plants that I remember the way I felt all through their lifespan, short or long. I remember how the soft pubescent leaves changed between my fingers, soft to rough, green to grey.  When I walk out among them, feeling the dirt under my shoes or bare calloused feet, I know what the plants were tendered into. I know the basic chemical and physical properties of where they grow and I know mostly what I need to do to help them.

Often I take a new seedling under my thumb and I don't yet know what it needs. It turns brown on the edges and I know that I've neglected it, with water usually. But almost always, it comes back and I learn better what it needs. I usually get second chances if I'm patient.

People though are different. Many times we don't get second chances and more often the idea of a person is discarded even before we let it take root in our mind. I, for example, am looking out the window at a man walking up my street. He's intoxicated, can't keep his hands off his crotch, talks on his cell phone as he walks with overly grand hand gestures. And I immediately assume that he is a druggy coming to the house next door looking for a fix or just a place to stay. The first thing that comes to my mind is how much I'd like to move. I want my kids to be able to play and not safely assume what I'm pretty sure is true. He might be a great guy other than the few details that make me disregard him, but I'll never know.

I came home today after three days of camping. We went to a lake south of here. The fish were many, but not caught by us. And when I got home I found probably the most offensive thing I can imagine. A friend, of the human sort, was waiting for me to inform me of a mishap, an accident. Someone had come into my garden and destroyed it. They rummaged through my seedlings like they were rummaging through a thrift shop full of junk. Some things were familiar and some they assumed should be discarded. They ripped out my seedlings from their fertile, carefully tended soil and along with them, a few weeds. It was strawberries, California poppies, clary sage, and an entire section of lettuce, beets, Swiss chard, all finally coming to the end of their great circle of life, with seeds carefully tucked into sheaths at the tops of haggard stalks. Sure, they left a blue oat grass, a sage, most of the nine foot sunflowers, but they ripped out the two-year-old lavender I had nursed so carefully, the helianthemum, the garlic stalks that were just getting ready to be harvested. And they left me, feeling violated. Yelling to myself and whoever was present "What Right did they have?"

I talked to my neighbor and my other neighbor and figured out that whoever they were, they thought they were doing a good deed. They had mistaken my garden for that of the woman who lives alone next door. They came to help her when she wasn't home, by direction of a friend of a fried.Without asking what they should do or where, without considering who shared the property line and who might live on the other side of it, they moved things and cleaned things, trimmed edges and scattered mulch. And though I can see that they were well intentioned and good natured, I can't help but feel violated and judged. Like whatever I had was obviously not on par with what they thought a yard should look like. They replaced my greens that had gone to seed and were nearly ready to harvest with a flat plane of brown mulch and a dozen or so fake silk flowers in all of the hues of the fake rainbow.

We ripped out the flowers almost instantly and after I had ranted and yelled and let the entire neighborhood know how I felt I went inside and hit my head, which was really just a perfect excuse to curl up in a ball and hate the world. 

But something in me didn't let me let it simmer too long. I couldn't handle the helplessness of feeling like I was violated with out even knowing it.

I went outside to the other part of my yard. The part that was safely enclosed by a fence but that might have shown whoever it was that I might know a little bit more about what was planted than they did.

I walked out to my grass that was sown earlier this year but now covers a small part of the yard in a thick layer of green softness. I turned toward my vegetable garden to find that the basil plants that were going to seed last week, that I had pinched a few bug-eaten leaves off of a few days previous, were flourishing and healthy. What had been a bed of dirt with smallish plants, leaves mostly eaten, had transformed in three days into a lush canopy of green, purple trumpet flowers marking the way for the pollination of hundreds of pingtung eggplants. The butternut squash vines were overtaking the pathway that led through the garden and when I walked over to the tomatoes I lifted up a branch and found the very first bright red ripe jewel hanging there, waiting for me and me alone to pluck it.

Suddenly I felt such abundance, such blessed life flowing through me from my finger tips, where I had plucked the red fruit, clear to my toes. And it felt better. I pinched off five of the basil plants down to the second branch and went inside and made a pesto.

Later on, as I shared a meal with my family, talking about the events of the day, I was reminded that though there were a few people that I might have ripped an arm and a leg off of if they had been present, I also had a few good friends and neighbors. I remembered that when the dozen or so strangers were rummaging through my life like it was a dumpster, two neighbors had approached them and told them that they should probably leave it all alone. When I mostly just felt like I needed to move and now, I remembered that there were at least two people who knew me and my life well enough that they knew that I had worked really hard on every inch of the what to someone else was just messy. So even though I live a hermits life in the suburbs and only come out to water the grass or pinch some herbs, I do have a community. There are people who are connected to my life and know me and care

So I guess I'll give it another chance. The human race, I mean. Though I will hunt down whoever is responsible and hold them accountable, I still feel loved and blessed with great abundance.


Annette said...

I love you Andrea, you not only have a way with seeds and plants but such a great way of expressing yourself with words!

Erin Van Berkel - Tennant said...

Oh, that's SO frustrating! I always admire people who have the ability to work well with plants. I, personally, have a "black thumb." When my mom goes out of town, she leaves my little girls in charge of her plants, not me.

I'm really upset for you that your yard, your home, and YOU were so carelessly violated!

If you need help re-planting or anything, please let me know! (Don't worry, I won't touch them, but my girls would be glad to!)

the sleepy time gal said...

happy to discovered an LDS unschooling mama!