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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Vegetable Soul

Defining Nature

How do you define 'nature?' If we define it as that which is untouched by humans, then we won't have any left.”
Emma Marris

One of the few benefits of losing trees in one's yard is that sunlight becomes more available. I have constructed a small container garden in the newly exposed space. My friend, Andy, brought me a trove of vegetable plants—squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant. I went to an expensive garden shop at the botanical gardens and bought herbs—basil, thyme, tarragon and mint—on the supposition that plants which begin life in a botanical garden are bound to thrive. I dug out the compost from the barrel I forgot to turn after a while, and mixed it with dirt and shredded leaves from the mountain that's been collecting for years in a raised bed by the driveway, and planted my garden in that rich loam. It looks happy right now; I'll let you know how it does.

Let me say this: gardens are work intensive. Every bone and muscle in my body is sore. But they are worth all the pain when the bounty comes in. Planting a small garden is one way to live in an urban setting and bring nature to you. Because, of course, nature does not exist only in pristine places with grand, panoramic sweeps. Nature includes the grass, and trees and even the weeds all around us. When we “get out in it” and get our hands in the soil, and our feet in the grass, we experience a primal body/soul re-connection.

People all over the world grow small gardens. Because of the local food movement in America, it's now trendy to convert abandoned lots into community gardens. A man named Ron Finley, who calls himself a “guerrilla gardener,” plants vegetables in traffic medians, along sidewalks, and in vacant lots in the food deserts of South Central Los Angeles. He gave a TED talk about it. People who live in high-rise apartments in New York and Chicago, are growing hydroponic vegetables in plastic soda bottles in windows and on tiny balconies high above bustling streets. My friend, Anna, sings hymns to her orchids every day. They respond with amazing blooms. Nature is everywhere, and the more contact we have with it, the healthier in body, mind and spirit we are.

If you're the kind of energetic person that likes to hike for miles in search of nature, by all means, take to the woods. But if you simply want to reconnect with the new life of Spring, plant a fern, or a squash, or a rose. Nature waits right outside your door.

                                                          In the Spirit,

                                                               Jane

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