Wednesday, May 14, 2008


When I was foraging food, doing the hunting / gathering thing, I was aware, of course, of seasons and availability. I knew I would have a glut of something as it came into season and then when it was done it would be done. Now that I’ve stepped into the farming epoch, I find my expectations to be very different. Firstly I have expectations. As a forager I was happy when I found something and skipped off merrily with an armful or bagful of bounty. As a gardener I do more work and have less produce. But I have control over what I can harvest. I expect to reap what I sow, I find I expect to reap a lot and quickly too. But this is not the case. Gardening is all about the future: I plant this seed and in two months, at the least, I can eat the casing the seed came in. In the meantime I can dream about my coming bounty, think of what I’ll do with the surplus and on and on. My garden was started slowly in January, at this moment I can harvest spinach and pumpkin (the bananas, cherries, ginger, chilis, turmeric and cilantro were here before). It will be another 2 months before I can harvest tomatoes, chayote, peppers, melon and pigeon peas and another 5 months, minimum, before I can harvest yucca, malanga, yampi, vine and sweet, potatoes. But when one is gardening, when one is grubby with sweat and dirt one isn’t thinking about the future, gardening can only happen in the present moment: there is a separation between the reality of gardening and the concept of produce. One gardens for the enjoyment of gardening, not for the harvest. The harvest is an added bonus, perhaps the initial motivation, but not necessarily the compelling force.
Is that true? I garden because I can, I have use of the land and the time. I want to have organic produce. I want to be self sustaining and minimize my consumption of store bought items. (This last is difficult, I still buy staples and these are rarely locally grown – lentils from Canada for example.) I want to recycle my ‘waste’ as much as possible and gardening is a great opportunity for this. I want to eat local and native foods. And I want to involved in the cycles of nature, to be outside, to be busy, to be in the dirt.
It needs more thought, and at the same time it requires no thinking. I’m off to water things.

Momentary beauty
A bug just landed on my keyboard. It looks like a leaf hopper, but so beautiful: a bright orange with iridescent squiggles of neon green and blue, red eyes. And it’s gone.