This past week I volunteered at Eden Hall Farm, an area of land recently acquired by Chatham University. The land has many uses including a decent size vegetable garden, wildflower garden, greenhouse and, more recently, a three sisters garden. My class has been helping weed and plant and this past Saturday we actually began from scratch (in the most literal sense) and created an entirely new garden. The three sisters are corn, pole beans and squash that all use one another to grow together. The corn is planted a top a small mound and around it at the top of the mound are pole beans, which grow up the stalks. At the base of the mound grows squash plants which act as a deterrent to small animals with its scratchy leaves that make it quite unfriendly. I like the concept, considering how these three sisters might interact if they were characters of some sort. It could be an interesting sort of folktale.
I found weeding to be most satisfying. I enjoyed letting my classmates plant and harvest, while I tugged and dug my forked weeding tool into the earth to loosen the roots of a deeply grown weed. There is something about pulling up an entire weed by its roots. The earth was very soft on Tuesday, which made the weeding much easier, however no less satisfying. I can't quite figure out what it was about weeding. Perhaps it is related to my desire to overly organize and straighten. After looking at an area, it felt good to see it free of weeds, at least for the moment. There was also something comforting about knowing the weeds would eventually be back and the process would begin again.
It seems like a good metaphor for life. Just like with weeding, there is always something on the to-do list. Dishes, laundry, homework, grading, errands, phone calls. It goes on. They grow back and I find myself longing for a time period where there is nothing to weed. Nothing trying to root its way into my time, stealing away the nutrients of creativity, drying out my imagination. But I also take solace in those times when I can get a sense of accomplishment from doing something relatively simple. Something as simple as paying a bill or folding towels. I know I need that variety, but also the break from the intense. Teaching and writing are intense passions. They are the real fruit, the sowing and tending and harvesting. But I need a break this summer, to do some simple things, to let my soil loosen up and breath. Maybe even ignore the weeds as well as the harvest. Just let things run wild a bit, see what ends up growing on its own.