Widgets The Good Place (Michael L. Umphrey on gardening, teaching, and writing)

"Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. - Benedict Spinoza."

No time to garden
     You can't lose when you play an infinite game

I don’t have time to garden well. I garden anyway.

Gardening is one of those activities like caring for children or learning about the past that rewards you for every little effort, no matter how small. It’s an infinite game. We never have enough time to do all that we would like, so we do what we can. I don’t have enough time to teach as well as I would like or to do what could be done with my grandchildren. Still, I teach and go cut Christmas trees with my grandkids.

Near where I live, I sometimes walk through a housing development where almost nobody gardens. The houses have no foundation plantings, no shade trees, no flower beds, though they do have satellite dishes and those portable basketball hoops sitting on the street. I know quite a few people who live there, and I don’t think it has occurred to most of them that they can simply dig a hole or a bed and plant a few things and their life will slowly start filling with more grace—the grace that is always here, flooding by us and through us with the sunshine.

It’s sad not to live in a garden, even a garden as unfinished and in need of care as mine. Having a garden is, to me, mostly a way of paying attention to the grace that dazzles and reassures, a way of aligning one’s small efforts with something so vast and good that we slowly learn we really do have nothing to fear.

Most years we have a late winter/early spring snowstorm that drives hordes of robins to my unmanaged apple trees. With no worms or caterpillars anywhere, the robins eat last year’s apples, withered but still hanging to the bare trees. I have a lot more apple trees than I can use. Some are just volunteers from old apple cores thrown along the creek. Some are ornamental crabs that I planted specifically to feed birds. Some are cultivars I planted, knowing I don’t have time or need for them now, sort of waiting for a time of famine or for new friends who would like free apples.

In the meantime, it’s a pleasure to see birds flocking to this bounty that they did not earn and cannot understand.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey
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2007 Michael L. Umphrey

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