02 March 2008

March madness, Watering Zen, and Gold stars for all!

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.


  1. Sorry about your weather, it sounds awful and then some.

    Thanks for hosting the geography project, it has been great to read the pride everyone has in where they are living and gardening.

    I hope your weather improves and you are feeling better soon!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. jodi - it was freakishly warm out today and a lot of our snow melted, finally! I also heard a bird yesterday which made me realize i never gave a crap about birds until now because they must be here for spring. hope your knee gets better!

  3. Dear Jodi,

    I certainly hope that your fibromyalgia gives you a reprieve from the pain soon. Does it help if I tell it to "Back off!"?

    The Tasmanian Devil picture made me smile. Our Thomasina is known as the Tasmanian Devil because that's how she sounds when she plays with other kitties. Pretty funny.

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  4. I hope your knee pain goes away very soon. That and the rotten weather is bound to make you crabby. We had glorious sunshine today after a snow couple of days. Perhaps it'll visit you tomorrow. I hope so!
    Your garden is looking so cheerful in that lovely photo. It'll happen in good time...keep the faith!! :)
    The book sounds like a good one.

  5. Hoping that knee clear sup well before gardening begins and that the warm Spring days will come sweeping up to you soon.

  6. What a grand blogging world we live in. I can understand why you can't get back to everyone. Just know that I love your thoughts and am happy just to read. Sickness makes you fretful too---like when my allergies flare up. I just want to grind sand as small as possible---meaning---it's already small but small isn't good enough when you are fretful. You worry more and keep grinding it smaller and smaller. I hope that made sense. Warm healing hugs your way--we had very warm weather today so I'm sending you some.

  7. March came in with a roar here too as we had a big storm this weekend. No snow though and it wasn't all that cold during the day either.

    Thanks for the gold star Teach! ;-)Hope you knee will improve soon, pain is no fun at all.

    I think gardening is very Zen and I love watering my garden by hand; the sound of it, the smell of it, the rainbow of it and the cooling effect it has too, just wonderful.

    Sounds like a great book Jodi and right up my street too.

  8. Jodi - I hope you feel better soon - was your knee predicting the arrival of the 'Tasmanian Devil'?

    March roared in like a lion here - perhaps we got the back-end of your experiences.

  9. I hate to hear you are miserable Jodi. I have a prescription for you... SPRING. It will be most helpful. I know you have to wait a little while longer...I am sending warm healing thoughts wrapped in a massage.

    I love the sounds of this little book. I am one of those people that enjoy watering with a hose. Crazy I know. My garden isn't all that big. While sometimes I become irratated with the push and pull of the hose I most often go into a Zen like state of nothingness while the stream of life magically flows from the hose.

  10. Hang in there Jodi, the weather has to improve soon. Your area has certainly been hit hard this year. I won't mention what weather we are getting right now and then you won't know what is coming your way, because you probably won't want to know.

  11. Oh dear -- hope your knee improves soon! And I think my GBGP entry has fallen off your list. Must be the weather...

  12. I hope your knee is better today and as Kerri said, maybe our sunshine of yesterday will be yours today. We have freezing rain this morning but expect the temperature to soar and melt some snow this afternoon. If March comes in like the Tasmanian Devil how does it go out?

  13. Another snowstorm? My heart goes out to you. Love the tasmanian devil photo :-)

  14. Jodi, I hope you're feeling better soon!

    A couple of months after my grandson was born, we realized his initials are TAS. And there were times, believe me, when it seemed to fit him very well! Thankfully he's outgrown the fit.

    It's been in the 50's here for two days in a row, and our snow is all gone for the moment. But the weather man is predicting snow every day this week, starting today. I can hardly wait until Farch is over!

  15. Jodi, Sorry about the crummy weekend. I now all to well what bad weather can do to fibro. But you sound as though you made the best of it. Have you tried the new med? I have found it to be a miracle drug!! I have my life back after 10 years. I have been on it for 2 months now and am so looking forward to spring! Thank you for the god star. It was an interesting project as I enjoyed reading about others. I also found myself more appreciative of where I live.

  16. With all the warm thoughts sent your way, your knee should be better in no time at all.

    We had over 10 inches of snow during this last storm and the huge piles look as though they will last well into spring. Sigh.

  17. That book sounds great - I'll have to see if I can find it. I've been experiencing the Zen of ice chopping. I hope both your knee & your Internet connection get better soon!

  18. Jodi, hurray!! I'm working at the library in the city and am using their wireless connection -- holy marigolds, I can't believe how fast this page loaded and NO problems to add a comment. I feel like doing a happy dance. Speaking of dancing, I am so sorry to read about your knee. The knee can be so painful so I truly hope you're fit as a fiddle very soon. Jodi, you are very hard on a writer's budget don't you know :) ... this too sounds like a book I absolutely MUST have. I am just so tickled pink about how easy it was to visit and comment today I could sing ... er, maybe not :-)


  19. This too (winter blues) shall pass.

  20. The weather had better improve before I get there in May!

    How horrid to be hit yet again. Today it's actually above freezing and you can smell the first hints of spring. There's hope in this musty dampness. If I could, I'd package it and send it to you.

    Stay strong. Spring will eventually arrive.


  21. Jodi, Like everyone else, I hope you're beginning to feel better. Do you think you're more susceptible to pain during "crummy" weather? Don't we long for those beautifully warm, sunny days? :-)

    Your photo is so cheery. Just keep looking at it!

    Now that you've had so many geo-bloggings, wouldn't it be fun to plan a trip to each of them? ;-)

  22. I hope your knee feels better soon, Jodi.

    Spring can't get here fast enough can it? It warmed up for us over the weekend and I was able to go for a long walk yesterday and this morning before the temps started dropping and the rain moved through, now it is cold and raining, possibly turning to snow.

  23. Jodi: I feel your pain...well, not the knee pain (I'm sorry about that) but the pain of waiting for spring after a seemingly unending winter! It really can't be much longer and thank goodness for all the great blogs out there!

  24. Hope your knee is better soon. The worst pain I've ever had in my life was knee pain. Forget gall stones or giving birth, the knees have it!

    I too love watering the garden. It's a perfect way to spend a summer evening. Even on the balcony where it means going back and forth with a watering can, it's still a job i enjoy.

  25. So glad I stopped by...I was just reading some earlier posts. First of all, Farch is perfect and even though I am here in Middle Tennessee, with pretty darn good weather...I love that word and the image it conjures up. Second, I love seeing crocus popping up out of the snow, so the photos were a sensory delight.


  26. I hope you feel better soon, jodi. It must also be a touch of the winter blues we are all feeling. We had a new fall of snow but it always has the effect of cheering me up.

    Matt's thoughts were interesting to read as well. Thanks for sharing :)

  27. YAY! A gold star!

    Thank you. Thank you.

  28. LOL Taz was a big surprise! I didn't expect to be greeted so warmly. Next time you need a Looney Character make sure you stop at my place and borrow one.

    It's been great following the geography project. I've met some great people but I'm having a hard time keeping up with visiting all the blogs out there now. Spring better arrive soon or I'm going to be so hooked I might forget to go back outside.

    And for watering - I too can go into a trance like state with the hose. Only instead of the garden I water stone. It's not that crazy - partly a construction trick for laying sandstone in walks and patios but mainly to bring the color out by getting the stone wet. See - I'm easily mesmerized

  29. Hope to get to feeling better soon, Jodi. The book you wrote about sounds good. I think that feeling is why most of us garden, don't you?

    We are at 44 degees this evening, with heavy fog. Snow is going fast because of it. What a lot of different weather we have had this week.

  30. Sorry to hear about your knee. :-( You sure do stay busy, I barely have time to read. How do you manage it all?

  31. Jodi, at first your project seemed like another fun garden blogger meme - especially when so many of you were trapped in winter - but as the entries piled up I realized this project was a better reflection of the kinds of worlds we live in than one finds in ordinary magazine articles.
    Your correspondents weren't reporters writing about some new-to-them location after a visit and some drinks and dinners out - these were written by people whose lives are invested in the places where they live. It was still fun, but in combination, the posts have weight.

    So limp on over and take that gold star for yourself - and we hope spring will come to you soon.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  32. Jodi .. I have lost track of your great posts lately .. wallowing in my own pain party LOL .. I too have fibromyalgia and the weather is one heck of a tormentor.

    There was one summer I had the gracious, much appreciated, company of a lost frog .. he stayed for some time .. travelling between gardens ..
    What struck me as perfect zen moments, were the ones I watered the garden in his direction and he SANG for me .. I will never forget that feeling .. it gives me chills still.
    I miss having frogs in our area so much .. that frog gave me such a gift I will never forget !

  33. Jodi sorry you have been ailing.
    Your words were kind and generous. The Zen of Watering Your Garden is only available on Amazon.com. At the time it was the simplest way to reach the most gardeners. Matt Cohen


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