Reading to Calm the Nerves and Excite Garden Fever

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I know I’ve been a little erratic about posting lately, but it never seems that we can come out from under some sickness or other in our house. Oh, and then there’s the teething and crying on my shoulder for 45 minutes just to mix things up. I must say I have new respect for little kids since I’ve become a parent. They are such resilient little beings. Anyway, I have been reading. I’ve been reading gardening books in order to convince myself that the days are going to stop being so cold and the trees are starting to bud. I’m half way through Andre Dubus’s new book The Garden of Last Days which is not coming out until June, but because of my work I was able to get my hands on a copy. It is every bit as unsettling and fast-paced as The House of Sand and Fog. For some reason, with this book, I have a vague hope that the ending will not be quite as bad as the last one, but I think that’s just a false sense of security. He really does have a way of building characters and figuring out what makes them tick or looking at how a decision about something very simple can spiral out of control. I’ve taken to reading that book first and then reading something more relaxing before bed.

dragonsgate.gifThe something more relaxing is Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate by Wendy Johnson. I just love this book. I like gardening memoirs to begin with, but this one is very well written. Johnson was a gardener at the San Francisco Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm for a long time and just reading her book seems like a form of meditation. I feel like I’m forced to slow down and really think about all the aspects of gardening. Here’s an excerpt that I found particularly beautiful:

Living water in the garden soil is like a vast liquid net, constantly shifting shape while maintaining connection with the microbial and plant life. Now and then this underground web of water is revealed above the surface of the soil. Just as the sun begins to warm the ground, the gossamer trap nets of field spiders in the late autumn garden light up, shining with dew. The pores of the soil exhale stored warmth and water vapor and the moisture captured momentarily in the spider’s webs. This glistening, aboveground web echoes the invisible network of water, soil, and air running just beneath the surface of the ground.


4 thoughts on “Reading to Calm the Nerves and Excite Garden Fever

    jeane said:
    March 31, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    I’ve never read a “gardening memoir” but it does sound beautiful. I’m going to plant my own first garden soon (mostly vegetables) and ought to read some material to get me in the mood!

    Carl V. said:
    April 9, 2008 at 11:56 am

    The cover on that Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate book is lovely. I love the rich green color.

    ta said:
    April 9, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Jeanne – Good luck on your first garden. We’ve been gardening for quite a while and I’m hooked. It can be a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding (a little bit like having kids, I guess). I like that it changes every year. I always like to try an experimental plant each year. One year I planted something called Sweet Annie, because it smelled nice. The little plant I brought home grew to be about 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide! Anyway, I hope you have fun.

    Carl V. – I have to admit the picture on the cover was what drew me to the book in the first place. Well the title was a close second. I like to think that I’m not that superficial, but it’s true I’ll pick the book with the pretty cover first. There are some pretty nice drawings inside, too. Oh, and I’m half way through my first book of the challenge and it’s great (Gossamer- Lowry) and I book I’ve been wanting to read, but haven’t had an excuse to. I’d love any suggestions for folklore or fairy tales categories.

    Carl V. said:
    April 14, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I don’t consider it superficial. Generally a lot of time and effort goes into picking a book cover and the artist or photographer or whatever certainly puts their creativity behind it. So in my opinion that is one of the best reasons to pick up a book and consider it. 🙂

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