Garden · Rachel

A Single Day

Our radishes started out so promising this year.

WP_20170524_08_00_01_Pro.jpgThere’s no sign of them now.

Five years ago on my main blog (Last American Childhood), I wrote these Lessons from Seeds.

  1. Take your time.
  2. There’s a lot of potential stored up inside you.
  3. You’ll have a better chance of growing if you separate yourself from the pack.
  4. Protect yourself.
  5. Don’t be afraid to travel far from home, but once you land, make the best of where you are.
  6. Put down roots.
  7. Drink water everyday.
  8. No matter what happens in life, ask yourself, “Am I growing?” That is the one essential thing.
  9.  Use whatever resources you have on hand.
  10. Head toward the light.

As I begin this blog, the second official week, I wonder which of these lessons I’ve managed to learn, even a little bit.

Number three about separating yourself from the pack jumps out at me as I struggle and kvetch and circle around social media unproductively, sometimes participating, often criticizing, unsure if I can stay in “the” conversation or any conversation without it, then wondering if that kind of bite-size, fleeting, uncomfortably public conversation is I one I want to have. I stormed off Facebook, returned five years later, (just recently), can’t decide whether I should post these posts there and Twitter, or let them simply live here and hope others will find them.

I don’t know. But in this is space I’ve allowed myself not to know. Am I growing? Yes. Can I take my time? I find that hard. But the task is a post for today. In mindfulness training, today—right now—is everything. But today is a single day.

Kajal reassured me over email last night when we discussed the logistics of the schedule and reviewing the Guests Posts and other effluvium of running even a very simple site. “We’ll find and set into a rhythm,” Kajal wrote, “And it will be good!”

Something mysterious took over most of the garden. I thought it was a zucchini plant with no zucchinis but then I realized it was maybe Morning Glory. See it hear, with the pink flowers closed? And I don’t know if the orange and yellow are Mums or what. They all came from a packet of mixed wildflower seeds my friend sent from California.

WP_20170917_19_13_17_Pro.jpg

My mistake—one I’m sure of many—was not giving the radishes enough space. You can’t just plant them and hope for the best. And you especially cannot do that if you are going to let young children sprinkle wildflower seeds anywhere they like.

But it depends on what you are seeking from the garden. Are you focused on the harvest? On the process? On the chance for something to grow? On impressive presentation? On experimentation?

As a student of yoga, I would be asked merely to observe the garden as it is, not what it could be.

Those early radishes are gone now, like a first draft that’s been all but destroyed by revision. But the garden is a palimpsest, as we are too. Perhaps if I dug through the tangle of maybe-Mums and maybe-Morning Glories, I’d find traces of the early radish days.

I have never seen a Morning Glory—or any flower—open or close. “It’s very rare to see them,” my nine-year-old Wally whispers in my ear one late summer evening in the garden.

Through a simple Google search I learn the flowers open only and close only once. Other flowers replace them the next glorious morning, but each flower on its own lives only a single day.

—Rachel

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3 thoughts on “A Single Day

  1. Oh Rachel, I love this list so much! I have so many thoughts on this post that I’ll never be able to get them down in a clear and concise way. So many thoughts on space and separating from the pack. (I’ve been obsessing over one of my favorite painters, Alice Neel, the mother of all mother artists and her isolation from the Village art scene, which changed her work, but was also “artistic suicide” according to one art historian.) I have many thoughts on the garden… This season, mine was a jungle of tomato plants crowding and leaning into each other, every one of them a volunteer from last year. I did some digging and replanting to give them space, though not nearly enough. And these tomatoes have had me thinking, while we may plant many things, we don’t get to decide what takes, what grows well and bears fruit. And the bombardment of social media, the noise of all that conversation and spouting off. I’ve been Facebook-free for 3 weeks, and it’s certainly had a quieting effect. I also gave a presentation on our hyper visual culture last week, and I’ve been thinking about how we navigate or opt out of social media, and how these choices can impact our own creative output. I love these questions you ask regarding what we seek from the garden. Harvest? Process? Presentation? Experimentation? And the yoga student perspective, asking not what it could be, but what it is RIGHT NOW. So much of my struggle lies in imagining what could be. How much happier I am when I remain rooted in the present. Thank you for this reminder. Such a beautiful moment, Wally whispering to you about the Morning Glories, the near impossibility of watching the flower as it blooms. I adore my shamrock plant for the way it awakens with the sun and sleeps at dusk, and yet I’ve never seen it in the process of its daily ritual. Perhaps I can make this a meditation goal, to observe the shamrock tonight. Forgive this tangle of thoughts, crowded and falling all over each other like the tomato plants out back. I’ll be meditating on your garden list, such an important one to return to again and again… and how I love that last one, “Head toward the light.”

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  2. Sarah, not sure why just today I saw this amazing comment of yours. It’s so splendidly full to overflowing with everything I could ever hope for in a comment (& then some) that I want to use it for tomorrow’s post, with my response—if that’s okay? Thank you!

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