I'm always struck by why people garden. Today I was reading a post by Laura at The Modern Victory Garden. Her preamble to her "Day In The Slow Life", talked a bit about why she gardens. She gardens to eat locally and to avoid factory farming. And to eat more healthfully. But she also gardens for the process itself. To get away from the noise of a modern high tech life and for physical exercise.
I've been a crafter for years now (though am having to give it up because of repetitive strain issues, but that is another story), so getting away from the high tech life isn't really an issue. I never really bought into cell phones or being constantly connected. I have one mind you, but those that have my phone number are told to only call on my cell if it is an emergency. Mostly it was gotten for meeting up with my kids. I've found it good for meeting up with others too. But I don't gab on it all day long, nor does my phone ring every three seconds. People can call me at home. If I'm not home, then I'm out busy doing something. I'm not free to talk.
I appreciate local, organic food, but I can buy it at the farmers' market easily enough. I like to exercise, but there are a million ways to do that that I love. So why do I garden?
I think I garden for the feeling of the miraculous. For the feeling of beauty. For the feeling of wonder. I know in my logical brain - that very important part that lets me plan and keeps me organized - that gardening is unnatural. It is a warping of nature. Agriculture is humanity forcing nature to do its bidding. Even organic agriculture. Even sustainable agriculture. Even hedgerow or diverse forest agriculture that gets about as close to nature as you can get and still be called agriculture. The logical part of my brain is the pessimist. It knows not everything I plant will live. It knows I'll forget to water sometime when I should; that a disease will come through and kill something; that a groundhog will eat all my squash.
But I don't garden for the logical part of me. I garden for that emotional side. The spontaneous, irrational side of me. The optimist in me. The part in me that built a circular bed outside my back door, when the logical side just told me why it wouldn't work as well as the rectangular beds. That part of me thinks that every seed I put in the ground will be a perfect plant. That part of me that sees my garden as an extension of nature, despite the weeding required or the raised beds that contain it.
Every seedling that pops up awes me. I'm always amazed every time the seeds come up. I've done a lot of things over my life. I've been in the computer industry and I got a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. I've crafted, which sometimes come closer at least for my art pieces. But only raising my children have surpassed the feelings I get from my garden.
Every seedling is a miracle. Every tomato harvested is an amazing gift.
The groundhogs might have eaten most of my squash, but the one that was left was a wonder to me. I could grow flowers and I do, but they don't give me the same feelings as growing food. I think growing food adds to the feeling of wonder as it is part of the web of life. Part of something greater than just beauty. Part of something magical.
So I confess to not being an altruist in my gardening. I don't do it to save the world, to eat locally and use less fuel. I don't do it to save money even though I keep a tally. I do it because I'm drawn to the marvel of nature. I want to be a part of it all and to see it all happen before me. I do it for selfish reasons. If I'm ever stressed out, all I need to do is go into the garden and listen to the bees hum. I do it to be connected.
So why do you garden?