gardening

Would you trash your friend's house?

I live in a modest row house in DC, but, this weekend, I am living in the lap of luxury. I have a friend who owns a beautiful house in Virginia and she is hosting a bunch of us for the weekend. Did I say it was a house? Correction. It's actually a mansion. It is a gorgeous 8-bedroom, 5-bath, custom-built place with a glorious deck, king-sized beds, jacuzzi-jet tubs, and more. It's one...big..."WOW!" IMG_1384

And the funny thing is, my friend isn't even home just now. She is a gracious hostess who is willing to let folks use her place as something of a retreat center, even when she's out of town.

But what if the group of us who are here this weekend decided not only to use her home, but to abuse it? What if we decided that we were going to do whatever the heck we felt like with it, and began carelessly trashing it?! I'm talking about more than just leaving dishes in the sink. What if we dragged chairs across the hardwood floor, broke the garbage disposal, pushed the deck furniture over the railing, etc.?

How ungrateful! How short-sighted! How thoughtless and stupid we would be!

 

This thought crossed my mind today because it is Earth Day. The Earth is a home that is also on loan to us. It is not ours, but we have been entrusted with it. The idea is to use it, yes, but not to abuse it. We want it to last for the long haul, for our children and grandchildren, and all the greats after that!

I see this as a calling of sorts, since the book of Genesis says: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' Ruling is a responsibility, and it is to be carried out with justice and compassion.

What does this look like for you? In what ways are you caring for the earth (and the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and the cattle....)?  I am still learning what this looks like for me. What do I do with the resources at my disposal? Do I toss things when they break or repair them? Do I recycle? I know that each and every choice I make can impact the earth.

Happily, I get glimpses of what good stewardship looks like when I see those who choose to garden, those who live less wastefully, and those who care for the land and the animals in ethical ways. In particular, just now, I am thinking of farmer Joel Salatin. In the podcast episode "The marvelous pigness of pigs," he talks about our God-given responsibility to care for the land and animals. His ethics inform his farming practices. How do mine shape how I live and the earth I live on? Something to ponder today and in the days to come.

 

 

 

 

The reckless gardener

My friend is a crazy amateur gardener. I call her crazy because she just plants things and hopes they grow. We're talking no prep, no plan, no fuss, no muss. Sound weird? Let me explain. A couple of springs ago, Jessica and her boyfriend worked hard to have the perfect garden. They designed an elaborate grid to plant their seeds. (He's in the military so he's all about plans. I imagine, once sprouted, he fully expected all of the veggies to stand at attention when he walks by. But I digress.) Let's just say that Jessica and her boyfriend were as ready as they could possibly be for this undertaking. They were super pleased with their plans. The day came and they executed everything to perfection...only to have all their efforts go to waste because of a spring rain the next day. It washed everything away (on to a neighboring plot in their community garden). You can imagine how frustrated they were at this turn of events. So the following spring, Jessica decided to take things into her own less-organized and less-militaristic hands. Jessica's boyfriend was away (he's in the military, as I said) so, unsupervised, Jessica showed her true stripes. In a fit of reckless and random abandon, she scattered her seeds without any grid or forethought.

At first I thought this was very strange until a friend told me recently that a lazy gardener is the best gardener! Jessica's philosophy is in keeping with a whole no-till movement! Who knew? And believe it or not, it is working. Many summers and falls, I have reaped the benefit of J.'s random gardening method: enjoying copious amounts of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and more.

Whatever you think of her gardening style, Jessica is to be admired for her grit. She would never call herself a gardener. She's the first to admit she didn't know the first thing about gardening, actually, but she didn't let fear of the unfamiliar or failure in the past hold her back. She dove in, muddy feet first.

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My daughter dove into gardening at UVA. She, too, didn't know much about it, but by her fourth year, she ended up being a leader for the community garden they had on grounds.

Another friend of mine, Celeste Longacre (gotta love her name), has been gardening/preserving/canning/freezing veggies for over 35 years. Listen for her approach on gardening in my podcast episode entitled (appropriately) "In the garden."

These three are all my heroes! Personally I'm still growing as a gardener. (See what I did there?) Do you garden? Are you a planner (like Jessica's boyfriend) or are you more the reckless sort (like Jessica herself)?  Tell me in the comments below!