Some of my earliest memories involve nature and the outdoors: digging up earthworms with my neighbor, pretending to be a Native American while gathering sticks and berries from the backyard, sitting quietly with my sister in an opening between the pines, picking raspberries with my dad, watching my mother hang the clothes on the line or tend to the flowers, and of course, helping my parents work in the garden.
Maybe I garden because I hope to rekindle those feelings of peace & quiet within myself and to share them with my family.
I love The Lord of the Rings series, particularly the chapters about the Shire, Tom Bombadil & Goldberry, and also those with the Ents. I cannot help but think about the Ents & Entwives as I reflect upon my gardening experiences now. The Ents (treelike creatures) have always relished the wilderness & preferred nature untamed, while the Entwives preferred the sort of order & control in nature found mainly in agriculture. They eventually grew apart, staying within their own sphere of Middle Earth, whether that is what they truly wanted or not.
Yet, today I think of them because within my own garden, I can see nature in both its order and its disarray. Weeds push up, plants decay, right alongside the heartiest flowering crops. As with the sourdough starter, I can only facilitate growth & not control it, so I am often surprised by the goings-on in our backyard. Take for example the cilantro we discovered peeping through the hay this afternoon where we had planted it many weeks ago & then proceeded to cover up after we saw that it was not growing. Just a pleasant little surprise.
As for myself, what can I hope to glean from the story of the Ents & Entwives, & of my childhood memories? Maybe this poem by Robert Herrick says it best (albeit without mentioning nature at all):
Delight in Disorder
by Robert Herrick
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness :
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction :
An erring lace which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher :
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly :
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat :
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility :
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.