Zen wisdom states that nothing is permanent. Times of prosperity, of happiness, of health will be followed by difficulties, sadness, and challenges. This isn’t up for debate; it’s the cycle of being alive. Zen practitioners focus their breath and awareness on being fully present in every state, uncomfortable or otherwise, recognizing that while one can’t control outside forces, one can recognize what’s actually happening and the corresponding emotion.
I water, examine, assess, and enjoy my garden daily, and yet it wasn’t until I started editing these photos snapped two weeks ago that I realized how much had changed in a short amount of time. These pictures are entirely out of date. The lettuce in the first picture was removed shortly after that picture was taken, and the bed has since been replaced by squash and seeded with runner beans. The cute little perky kale plants are now towering leafy trees. The beets are close to being harvestable and the butterhead lettuce is double in size; despite eating a head each night, we really should be eating two – we have so much lettuce!
I walked into the house this morning and casually mentioned to Justin that everything in the garden was “looking good...so far”. This wasn’t meant as an idle observation: I felt my voice become quiet and measured, as I imbued a simple sentence with layers of hope and even trepidation.
I planned this year’s garden last winter. As a tactile learner and thinker, this translated into sheets of paper covering our dining room table, stacks of books beside me, flipped over onto certain pages, with me hunched over my computer, cross-referencing my own knowledge with the internet hive mind. It was only in this reflection and planning that I fully understood last year’s garden. In the middle of the summer, I had the tunnel vision that’s necessary to focus on the immediate: which vegetables needed more water or nutrition, what had to be harvested that day, awareness of a crop that had been hopelessly attacked by slugs, and in-the-moment irritation at spacing or planning errors.