Order and Beauty

February 12, 2024


I have to confess, I’m not a gardener. I have many reasons why I should be one because my parents were avid gardeners and many a weekend growing up was spent landscaping with the family. My three sisters continued the family tradition with one winning citywide prizes.

     I have excuses why I didn’t take up this worthwhile hobby though I won’t use them to justify myself completely. Eilat, my home for the past forty-eight years, is in the Negev Desert where we average just twenty-two millimeters (less than an inch) of yearly rainfall. The couple of times a year that it rains, you’ll see children, and even adults, dancing in the streets. In contrast, when we lived in Key West Florida, an island in the Caribbean, the compost we threw into our backyard pile grew automatically into avocado and papaya trees. Though we water here with automatic drip irrigation, in the summer if the system shuts off for any reason such as the battery expires, plants likewise expire.    

     Furthermore, while I know this may sound like a lame excuse, I’m unable to remember plant names in Hebrew though I speak the language fluently. I‘m not sure if this is a common phenomenon or just my problem. Obviously I could still point to plants in the garden store and stick them in the soil but I feel handicapped.

     On the other hand, I have loads of reasons why I should like gardening. The internet is full of sites called “twelve reasons you should love gardening”, “twenty-one reasons you should make gardening your new hobby”, and more.  Personally, I love nature and being outside. I’m an exercise fan and while not aerobic, gardening does get a person moving. One of my preferred activities is hiking but even in Eilat where the mountains are close to home, we can’t always jump up and head for the hills whereas my garden is steps away.

     My mind often seems to be running all over the place. When I’m in the middle of a writing project, like a book, I can concentrate and think about how a scene or character is developing which helps me to focus and put negative thoughts aside. But writing is hard work, and I’m still procrastinating about starting my next novel. Gardening with it’s repetition of weeding, pruning, gathering leaves, and tidying can become a form of meditation to also quiet the mind and experience the here and now, leaf by leaf and weed by weed. And as a person who appreciates order and beauty, gardening supplies both of these needs.

     Finally, I believe gardening fulfills an inborn human desire or trait. God put Adam and Eve in “the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it,” (Genesis 1:15). Cultivating and keeping the earth in a sustainable way remains our task today and one that bring deep satisfaction especially when we dirty our hands.

     While writing this, I’ve been working in our garden, and between the enjoyment and gratification I’m experiencing and the arguments in favor of gardening I’ve been reading, I’m beginning to think I may be a gardener after all.

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