One of my favorite activities besides gardening (and hiking) is walking through my city’s neighborhoods. An enormous variety of gardens exists here in Seattle – from classic, formal gardens to casual lawn and flower bed yards, to unique mini-forests or native-plant landscapes, to yards full of veggie beds or yards full of dandelions (a very beneficial ‘weed’). You name it, we have it. And in many years of walking throughout this beautiful city, I have observed an encouraging trend – most homeowners are replacing their lawns with plants. This is one of the most beneficial acts we can take for the environment: less water usage (unless growing food), greater habitat for wildlife, decreased useage of fertilizers, healthier soil (and soil sequesters carbon), more shade for all, and more interaction between neighbors. Everyone wins.
Below are a few examples of what I have seen while walking. Enjoy!
I’ve been a gardener all my adult life. In fact, I think I was a gardener from my first baby steps – I just didn’t know it at the time. And in all my years of working in my home garden, in public gardens as lead steward or as part of a team, I have always found one thing to be true: no matter how I feel at the start of my gardening day, I always feel wonderful at the end.
I had hoped we would be moving towards a smooth transition by now. I had hoped we would be on the down-side of COVID-19. Instead, we are leading the world in coronavirus cases and deaths. We have an out-going president who is attempting a coup by pressuring a few states he won in 2016 to “throw out the election results” and install electors loyal to him. We have a president who encourages racism, xenophobia, sexism, self-centeredness, and greed. We have a government that runs on lies, conspiracy theories, and false accusations against “enemies” of the out-going president. We have an economy close to the edge of collaspe, millions of people about to default on their rent or mortgage payments by the end of this year, and as of October an unemployment rate of 6.9%. And yet, at least 70 million people in this country support this president – lies and all. And countless people refuse to wear masks and/or social distance because . . because . . . “COVID isn’t real”, because “I have rights!”, because “You can’t force me to do something I don’t want to do!” Because . . .”me, me, me!”
What’s happened here? Certainly, our country has countless faults, and most of them we are just now beginning to sincerely face head-on. Is this strife the birth-pangs of a better, more compassionate country? Or are we sliding back into the Us-vs-Them mentality that many in our country have worked so diligently and so long to climb up from? I try not to become discouraged but when I see the glorification of dishonesty, cruelty, and mocking the “other”, I want to turn and run the other way. Like so many, I’ve been fighting injustice towards the “Other” since I was 16 (I’m 68 now) and in honesty, I don’t see much improvement. And this is tragic because, as a species, we are capable of kindness and compassion. We have all the equipment needed to learn to trust and accept those we perceive as different. We are able.
But, today, right now, right here, so many people are exhausted. We work and work and work. We try. We love. We lose someone we love. We watch someone we love suffer. And we try to help. We try.
Change. Life is nothing if not change. Each day, each month, each season, each year brings change. The fluidity of life brings hope, beauty, and joy to all unafraid to embrace it. Nowhere is change more evident than in a garden.