This has been one of those weekends...First, let's begin with the weather. March did not come in like a lion OR a lamb. It came in like the Tasmanian devil from Bugs Bunny, a roaring, whirling, screeching maelstrom. Like many of you, we got clobbered with yet another snowstorm, which began yesterday and finally spent itself sometime this afternoon. Except the wind has been blowing pretty well banshee-speed since sometime last night. Crankily, I have refused to go outside all weekend, leaving LSS to do the outside chores: but in my defence, that's mostly because the crud in my knee grabbed hold and made even walking across the room difficult and very painful the past couple of days. While I'm used to chronic pain because of the ever-tiresome plague of fibromyalgia, this is more acute and makes me crabby.
And as sometimes happens when the weather goes absurd, our Internet connection became slow as March molasses, so while I could get people's comments approved and add any late homework, much of the time reading blogs and commenting was a bit more challenging. I also haven't commented back on my own posts to all your lovely comments over the past few posts. Suffice it to say I've read and enjoyed every one of them, and appreciate all the feedback you give, and for those who are new to visiting, I'll return the visit soon!
For all of you who have done posts for Garden Bloggers Geography Project, well done! If you haven't gotten your post done yet, or if it's not appearing on the lefthand column, just send it along between now and Wednesday evening. That gives you an extension, and me time to read again through all the posts that have come in already, and do a roundup post. In the meantime, you all deserve gold stars for your efforts, because they have been fascinating, entertaining, at times very amusing, and always informative.
Since I couldn't do much of anything else this weekend, I spent a great deal of time working: handling deadlines, doing research, cleaning up my office AND my harddrive (shudder!) and reading both for work and for pleasure. One of the for pleasure reads I've been savouring of late is Matthew Cohen's Zen of Watering Your Garden. Matt is a family physician who has gardened for more than fifty years, and who spent four years creating this lovely book of exquisite photographs and thoughts. Those four years have been well spent, because the result is a perfect gem of a garden-contemplation book.
In his foreword, Matt says he has two goals:
The first is to provide an experience which nurtures the reader's relationship with things that grow in the earth--and in the soul...My second goal is to inspire my readers to engage the garden in its own integrity and power. I use aphorisms, poetry, and other insightful observations--most found and some original--as companions to the plants in the photographs and as guides to the reader.
Every person needs a time and place to escape the troubles of the world around us, including the troubles that clutter our minds. Matt told me that he realized while hand-watering his Tallahassee, Florida, gardens that he felt a Zen-like experience--inner peace and clearing of the mind. While he says his is not a Zen garden as such, nor does he claim to be an ardent student of Zen, he finds a calm and spiritual connection while watering--the sound of the water, the smell of water caressing the plants, the play of light on water droplets on perfect flowers or cool green leaves.
"A garden can be anywhere something grows and is cared for," Matt writes, and this is so very true. Our gardens might be sprawling rural plots or a few clustered pots of flowers on a balcony. They may be meticulously groomed suburban landscapes or indoor gardens grown for food or pleasure. While Matt's favourite plants are orchids, specifically Laeliinae, with camellias, native plants and trees also tugging his gardening heart, the plant photographs in Zen of Watering Your Garden cover a wide spectrum, and each photo is beautifully matched to a text. Here, blades of grass are dusted with frost, while the accompanying text is a quote by Gretel Ehrlich. "Leaves are verbs that conjugate the seasons." Here, a pond with koi in it shimmers besides words from Herman Melville's Moby Dick: "Yes, as everyone knows, mediation and water are wedded forever."
Beside a striking potted bonsai, a quote by Lao Tzu: "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."
I asked if Matt had a favourite poem or aphorism in the book, and he pointed to me one by his 83-year-old father, Stanley Cohen. Beside a photograph of Gerbera daisies glistening with water droplets, his dad's words:
Watering, drooping leaves become alive,
Colourfull petals awake and thrive.
Sponging roots absorb and flourish
For the many seasons they will nourish.
I like this soothing little book of words and garden images very much--so much so that I keep it on my office desk, to help calm a cluttered mind when deadlines and emails and photos that need sorting and more deadlines and other commitments and a messy messy desk threaten to catch me up and away...I remind myself, as Lao Tzu said, that nature doesn't hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
This reminds me that while winter is not hurrying to leave, all things will work their way through. The mounds of snow will soon melt, the spring bulbs will smile skyward and leaves will open with a flourish, and all will be well again.