Unresolved in the Garden

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, or any resolutions. I prefer to just see what happens, without my controlling little fingers and my overactive yet underwise mind gumming up the works.

slugleavingslimetrailonchives18Oct2013If pressed, however, I might echo John Burroughs’ suggestion that what life teaches us is ‘Look underfoot.’  He goes on to add: “You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Every place is the center of the world.”

I can resolve, I guess, to look underfoot, right where I am.

I would also like to follow Robert Lynd’s counsel that “in order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”

I can look down and be quiet. Except for the times when I am looking up, and inside, and underneath, while talking to myself or the chickadees.


I notice in looking over my blog reader today, reading posts from late December and early January, that many gardeners do make some firm, even itemised resolutions; and some of these resolutions seem worth considering in a casual, dithering, ambivalent sort of way:

>>> A Way to Garden blog lists some garden mantras, which seems a good way to look at it: something to aid concentration or meditation. Among hers are some lovely ones: Slow down, and lower expectations. Be curious. Listen more closely. Welcome wildlife. Don’t be snobbish, but occasionally think like a collector.

>>>Beautiful Wildlife Garden’s Wildlife Garden Resolutions include Start with One Thing, or one area; Cultivate Untidyness; Resolve to Grow Native Plants in 2015; and Find 50 New Species in your garden … That last one seems daunting but it may be fun to try.

>>>Elizabeth Licata at Garden Rant proclaims 2015 The Year of the Do-Nothing Garden. Specifically, she says this means ignoring weeds that don’t seem to be doing aesthetic or practical harm; ignoring insect damage and doing nothing to prevent it; ignoring “all the tall plants in front of the short plants;” and ignoring “all the super-modern, spiffy-clean minimalist garden designs people keep posting in Facebook.”  I like those minimalist designs. I’m not sure about the insect thing; I think some borers may be killing a peach and my Nishiki willow tree.

>>>The Maine organic gardeners at Chiot’s Run (living on 153 acres in Liberty, ME) are going to tackle one big project this year: cleaning out the garage. Planting more greens in the garden is also on their list (also mentioned here). And permaculture prepping some new garden areas. One of their Cultivate Simple goals last year included celebrating success or failure.

Which reminds me of this: “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” (Janet Kilburn Phillips)  True in much of life, perhaps all of it, as none of us knows what we’re doing. What looks to our naïve eyes like success may not be, and what looks like failure may not be, either.

>>>Fran Sorin at Gardening Gone Wild Takes a somewhat different New Year’s fresh-start approach, offering 3 tips to help us envision the garden of our dreams: 1. Exercise your imagination, daily. She gives helpful instructions and ideas for how to do this.  2. Observe. I.e., “tapping all our senses to really see, feel, taste, smell, and touch the world around in such a way that we reconnect with our sensuality. ” I’m on board there. 3. Discover …what you really want, and she offers an exercise for this as well.

>>>Erica at Northwest Edible Life has a realistic take: “[ F]rankly, I’ve reached the age where I know nothing I say after three cocktails on December 31st is going to have any impact on my life or decisions on March 1st. I’ve learned that if something in my life needs improvement or change or more attention, it’s not grand resolutions that will get me there, it’s boring everyday habits.” So true. Then she lists her resolutions in categories of Energy (solar), Garden (“simple, simple, simple”), Financial, and Animals. Cute pig.

>>> Kathy in Boston at Skippy’s Vegetable Garden has come up with her resolutions for 2015:  More lettuce (yes!);  more beets, carrots, garlic, onions; less winter squash; beautiful tomatoes, bigger onions; consistent crops of bok choi & broccoli; winter greens in a plastic tunnel (“get rid of the voles”); find a good vantage point to photograph the garden more; enjoy the garden even more!


Right now, I hope for this: to become and incorporate and dream with open eyes:

You become things, you become an atmosphere, and if you become it, which means you incorporate it within you, you can also give it back. You can put this feeling into a picture. A painter can do it. And a musician can do it and I think a photographer can do that too and that I would call the dreaming with open eyes.

— Ernst Haas



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