Now, go grab a glass of ice water, sit down, put your feet up, and breath deep. Enjoy this little reading break for all it's worth.
Me: “I think this chapter on gardening is more a chapter on sustainability,” I said to mom on the phone the other day. “Gardening in itself is kind of a dead end street, don’t you think? Aren’t we wanting the bigger picture?”
“Umm,” I had to wait while she took a big swig of coffee and cleared her throat, ridding it of the sticky particles of her last bite of earthquake cake, her traditional afternoon (and sometimes morning) mood elevator.
“Sustainability? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“A way of living your life so that you don’t get worn out, so the earth doesn’t get worn out. You know, having a rhythm.”
“Sustainability? Is that the word you want? It sounds too much like ‘subsistence’. Subsistence farming. People living hand to mouth, scratch-dirt poor.”
“No no no! With sustainability you’re concerned about maintaining a balance, being both a giver and a taker. If you’re talking about farming, that means crop rotation, composting, using ground cover and green manure. The farmer is regenerating, too, not just consuming. But it’s much bigger than that. It’s about being intentional with how we live our lives, being life-giving instead of destructive. Keeping ourselves in balance with the people around us and with the earth.”
“Oh.” More throat clearing, louder this time. “So you mean balance.”
“Yes, that’s it exactly. People are famous for their passing interests. I see the concern for a productive and slower, less-money-oriented life among the young, but then it disappears. You know when Barbara, one of the middle-aged women from our church, heard that I made my own bread she said, ‘Oh yes, I used to do that too when I was your age.’ It made me so mad! Like making my own bread is some impractical little whimsy!"
I barreled on. “Do what you want, when you want, and it’s cool. But if you dare to claim a lifestyle choice, people make fun of you because then all your inconsistencies show through. But at least I’m trying. That’s the problem with everyone. They do something counter-cultural on a whim and then when maintaining those choices starts to require a sacrifice, they give up. Poof. It all dissolves and they go the easy route. I think we should operate the other way around. Choose what matters, the non-negotiable values, and then live our lives in support of them.”
“Well, I still think a chapter on gardening is important.”
“Sure it’s important. Our food supply is our most obvious connection to nature. It provides a kind of balance. It slows you down. It keeps your lifestyle from spiraling out of control.”
“Yeah, right!” Mom squawked. “Summertime is super crazy, busy beyond belief! It is out-of-control, all the work that has to get done.”
“Okay, right, so it is frantically busy, but there’s a sane pattern to it. And it keeps you home. Stuck. Grounded.”