learning through life experience (gardening)

On Friday, I turned this



and this…IMG_3604


Into this

and this…IMG_3608


As I was vigorously yanking weeds and easily avoiding vegetable plants, it struck me I know more than a lot of people might about gardening. This is not on purpose. Through decades of being around my parents and their gardening—and having household chores that included gardening work—I just absorbed the information; a kind of osmosis. I don’t remember ever being told how to recognize the early leaves of the squash-types of plants (they also look sort of like early sunflower leaves), for example, or which plants like having their lowest branches snipped with pinched fingers (tomato plants) because it makes them grow stronger.

My older daughter weeded “her” section of the garden and that’s when I realized it’s happening for her, too. She said, “Weird, there’s basil here!” and kept weeding. Then she said, “No, it’s not,” and she pulled it. She then recognized it as a bell pepper plant and re-planted it. (We think it’ll be fine — I know from experience that vegetable plants as a general rule are pretty darned hardy.)

As I kept working on the rest of the weeding, I got lost in thoughts about how my life path has been affected by the odd and useful bits of knowledge about plant life. I thought about children who have never seen vegetables growing in a garden. When I go for walks, I can pick out loads of different edible plants — when did I learn those things? I don’t know — all of it makes me feel very connected to the earth.

Then I think about all I don’t know. Like how surviving on “the streets” would require knowledge I don’t already have. Getting by on a minimum wage job sounds impossible to me, in part because it’s absurd to expect people to survive on such low incomes, but also because those survival skills are not a part of my life experience.

Weeding the garden this weekend, I found a peaceful place—centered and fleeting—in both gratitude and humility.



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