Back to the Garden

Welcome to all of you who took a step back from the virtual world and bought seeds, plants, fertilizer, garden tools, even baby chicks during our recent cultural and economic shift.  

It doesn’t matter why you did it, fear of food shortages, frustration with high prices or just an abundance of time to spend at home. It was a healthy choice for sunshine, fresh air and mobility versus more hours spent sitting, pointing and clicking. 

Apparently, we are a nation of gardeners and small holders again, or closer to it than we have been in decades. Garden seed, fertilizer, potting soil, even baby chickens and chicken feed have been as scarce in some parts of the country as meat was in Hiawassee a few weeks ago.  

Many of us are gardening for the first time, and many are returning to it after a long absence. Now that we’ve made that all important first move, it’s important to be patient and persistent and to hold fast to the intentions behind our choice.  

We have long been conditioned to seek immediate gratification, and the garden doesn’t grow that. From the first spade breaking the sod to the last tomato we pick in October, a garden is an exercise in faith and endurance. It requires setting aside short-term desires to achieve long term goals, and many of us are no longer accustomed to investing our time (or our money) in this manner.  

All too soon the old economy, fractured but still functioning, will seek to draw us back in, and that is to be expected. Every business wants to survive, even the diseased ones. Those (gassed green and tasteless) tomatoes are cheaper at the grocery now. Hollywood is making movies again. There is breaking news happening, and I haven’t posted anything on Facebook in days. I’ll spray those beans tomorrow… 

To me it’s a clear choice. A few more tiny doses of serotonin when someone “likes” my post on Facebook, a minute by minute awareness of News Talker One’s opinion of how today’s broken news will play out, another BOGO gizmo for the kitchen or dustable for the shelf – or, the perfect tomato, picked at the peak of ripeness from my own vine, thickly sliced between two pieces of sourdough bread and a generous layer of Duke’s mayonnaise.  

Go, water those cucumber seedlings right now…Was that my phone? I can’t believe she posted that…. 

Just stop for a minute. Let’s be honest. We’ve got 6 more months of politics to endure. That’s enough time to grow a prize winning pumpkin or add another roll of belly fat. Nobody cares about your political opinion anyway. The only people who agree with you, who provide your micro doses of brain candy for the mean-spirited memes you share, are people who already think and vote like you do. When is the last time you were so insulted that you changed your opinion about something? 

“But it’s important to stay informed.” Agreed. Now tell us the last time corporate news provided you information that made you either richer or happier? We’ll wait…. 

How useful is it to know who got shot in another town or another state, or the opinion of a talk show comedian on a question of medical science, or what the polls say today that they didn’t say yesterday, now that Politician Pepsi was “slammed” by Politician Coke? If you curate your information intake, everything you need to know for the day, from financial news to the weather, can be absorbed over a single cup of coffee in the morning. 

That leaves plenty of time to check those potatoes for flea beetles. I like neem oil sprayed with enough Dr. Bronner’s peppermint for a good emulsion to solve that problem. Just keep after it, and don’t get discouraged when you start to feel withdrawal symptoms away from the pixel pushers. We have been conditioned for a long time now. Marketing, propaganda, social engineering and manipulation are intensely studied and heavily invested to keep us consuming goods, services and information as much and as often as possible.  

In your garden there is no one to convince you to be so outraged or afraid that you need to keep checking back to see if you should be less outraged or afraid, or more so. If you like drama, the garden is full of it, with its life and death struggles and physical challenges and heartaches and triumphs. If you’re patient and enduring, you can even post pictures of your prize tomatoes on Facebook. They will get more “likes” than your political opinions. I guarantee it, or your money back.   

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