The Dirty Truth
A Gardener’s Tale
I remember, even as a young child, an intense desire to create. I tried desperately to put my feelings into words as I begged for drawing tablets, Paint-by-Numbers, Shrinky Dinks, rug hooking kits, macrame projects…
You name it, I tried it, and I always ended up feeling disgusted and dissatisfied.
I had an aching need to produce something beautiful, something perfect, but I could never make it happen.
Years later, my new-at-the-time friend, Becky, dug up a trunkful of iris(es?) and told me to take them home and plant them. I was certain, in my care, they would die immediately, but I did what I was told since good friends are hard to come by, and I thought it might be rude to intentionally kill her gift by not even trying.
And, thank God, they thrived. (No, really. I found God in the garden — I knew he was with me all along, but I had never felt him before. But, though it’s related, that’s not really the point right now.)
In gardening, I finally found the creative outlet I was so desperately seeking. By some miracle, a few acres of useless farm ground became the ever-changing canvas on which I get to paint — with foliage and flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors. Even scents and sounds, too, if you count the songbirds we lure here.
I’ve been posting spring pictures recently on Facebook. I love to see the progression from the beginning of gardening season back to winter again. Naturally, since I want them to look nice, I tend to select the pictures that hide the flaws, the imperfections. Those that accentuate the positive, like this one…
But the reality is, nature is dirty — dandelions so thick in places they look like blankets of frost, half-dead ash trees succumbing to the emerald ash borers, flooding, burrowing rodents, downed trees. The lawn, besides the dandelions, mostly a combination of creeping charlie, purslane, wild violets, clover and crabgrass.
Nature is no place for a perfectionist.
So, I’ve relaxed my standards, and learned to take great pleasure in the beauty of the process, of the painting in progress.
And now, as I look out my front window through the cool spring rain at the blues and purples and greens I have chosen, I realize it was more than just beauty I was searching for all those years ago. I was attempting to create a feeling, to soothe myself.
I was seeking peace.