Planting season has returned and I’m reminded how much of the essence of life can be expressed through gardening.

Prepare the soil.  In these parts of Texas they pronounce “soil” like “soul” which I think is very fitting.  ”Make sher yer soul is rii-et,” I keep hearing. Right soil/soul means well-nourished, not too dense not too light, not too saturated not too dry.

Most avid gardeners I know don’t like wearing gloves-we’d rather brave red ants’ nests than lose direct tactile connection with the source.  Gardeners are also often good cooks because in both much of the preparation and appreciation are felt through the senses, just as the soul is.  The soil’s scent sends messages of moisture and balance, an air current lifts the fragrance of potential like the waft of incense during inspired union with the divine.  The rush when raw content is ready for creation is felt not thought.  That rii-et soul is all that separates humanity from nothingness.

As the soil is soul, the seed becomes relatedness and the plant symbolizes the body–with the heart as the blossom.

The seed as relatedness-without the right environment, the seed even in the most fertile soil will lie dormant or die.  It reacts to the triggers of temperature, texture, humidity, light.  The chemistry of biology; it needs the right ambiance.  If the timing right, the seed viable, the locale tolerable, the latent energy is aroused into life.  In cultivating and maintaining both seed and relatedness atmosphere means everything.

In few other ways have we practiced faulty science than with them both-coated, labeled, designed, bought and sold, weighed and measured-a wrong that must be made right.  Such misconceptions around relatedness and the seed–nature created them perfectly contained and full of potential and means to provide them to us freely, prolifically and with abandon.  What we are doing with them is at best unnerving.

The plant as body-in growth it needs our regular attention, but not our obsessive control.  Both have evolved to thrive under the right conditions, but in extremes–whether neglect or rigid management–they wither.

Their homogenization, regulation, purification, co-modification block inherent individuality and stunt intuitive growth.  Flourishing requires the cell-wisdom balancing act of nature now made unnecessarily confusing and needlessly complicated with powders to correct and potions to speed and formulas to follow.  The body and the plant are self-healing when conditions are reasonable.

No garden will ever be completely weed-free, to strive for perfection is merely an exercise, with the only worthy goal being no more or no less than the deepest understanding and appreciation of nature’s diversity.  Over-controlling either plant or body is not natural, we can bend, ply, nudge, plow, but in the end much of it is just folly, all they really need is water, light, nourishment, air and care.

The blossom or fruit is why we toil. The ripe tangy tomato or sweet-tart raspberry or vibrant crimson hibiscus flower -The Heart. Beckoning the bees and humming birds and butterflies the same as us all.  Discriminate and unique. Charming and enchanting us enough to brave repeated pain and danger.  The exquisite orchid that allures man and woman to hike dense forests; the bananas that cross oceans or deserts to decorate our dessert; the cocoa, herbs, spices that carved nations and palates.   They are everything that makes life delicious.

The harvest is our continuity–the cycle completed, nourishment provided and the time of approaching rest for regeneration.  The ancient goddess-worshiping cultures understood that without death there is no rebirth, no spring to return or life-giving plants to reemerge from the earth.  They knew that each season in the garden is cause to celebrate-but that we remain so enticed still today to celebrate spring as no other season reveals our own pull toward regeneration.  In the harvest as in continuity our savior is community-the sharing and honoring of nourishment and knowledge passed along through the ages.

From the Earth I’ve learned to thank the Heavens for all I’ve come to know through gardening.

The dogwoods soon to be in bloom

The dogwoods soon to be in bloom

I'm expecting last year's crop will pale in comparison

I'm expecting last year's crop will pale in comparison!