a formal written defence of one’s opinions or conduct.
Gardening turns people funny. I started a new garden project last year, and when I discovered that there was unlimited horse manure on site, it was like all my birthdays and Christmases come at once. Yet it wasn’t so long ago that I was amazed to listen to a friend – a fun, world travelling, motorcycle building friend – talk at length about gardening with another woman. I always thought that gardening was the exclusive province of the retired, or the dull. Little did I realise that, ten years on, I would be a full-on garden obsessive.
The other day I discovered a trug which I had filled with weeds last autumn and forgotten. It had become filled with rainwater and the contents had turned into a sort of compost soup. I wet my hand putting some more weeds in, and smelled it; it smelled just like the liquid manure farmers spray on the fields, and I said, “Oh, beautiful!” Out loud. Then looked around sheepishly to see if anybody heard. But I knew by the smell that the soil and plants would love it.
That was when I realised that gardening has completely changed the way I see the world. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
I just came across a book ,Soil · Soul · Society: A New Trinity for Our Time by Satish Kumar, and I haven’t read it yet (my book budget has been way overspent this month) but I downloaded the sample and I’m really intrigued. He proposes a new trinity – soil as the body, soul as the inner being, and society as our relation to each other and the world. “Therefore the trinity of Soil, soul, Society is a way of saying in three words that we are all related, interconnected and interdependent. This is a trinity of wholeness and unity of life in its myriad forms.” That’s a philosophy I can get behind. In the foreword he says,
“Soil is the source of all life, literally and metaphorically. All life comes from the mother soil and returns to her. I love soil as my mother and take care of her. Soil contains earth, air, fire and water. She is nature herself.
If my outer body is soil, than my inner being is the soul. As I cultivate the soil to grow food for the body, I take care of the soul and cultivate love, compassion, beauty and unity to realise the harmony within and without.”
When I look at soil I feel something like what Satish Kumar describes. I see potential for life and growth. I see food for humans and for insects and birds. I see a thriving microcosm of soil-tending worms, bugs (helpful and not so helpful to my efforts) and the bacteria and microscopic fungi essential for plant growth. I see the foundation for the mini-ecosystem which is my garden. And I love it with all my heart.
When I finished weeding, I called a quick staff meeting. To the worms I said ,”Well done; keep up the good work!” To the pair of robins waiting on the wall to snatch up what I had unearthed I said, “Fill your boots with the woodlice, but go easy on the worms if you don’t mind.” To the spiders I suggested some Barry White and a night in… one can’t have too many spiders in the garden after all! I didn’t speak to the soil, but I like to think I went in with its blessing, and I went in feeling very happy indeed.
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