Garden Time


In last week’s blog, guest Eric Maisel raised the concept of re-imagining time so that “it is abundantly meaningful to turn to it (gardening) for short periods of time during the day rather than holding that, unless you have a huge expanse of time, there is no reason to bother.”

This echoes the sentiments expressed by garden writer Marianne Binetti who believes that gardening is a legitimate task to be incorporated into every garden writer’s workday and that time should be set aside for it like other assignments or appointments. Marianne suggests the carrot-and-stick approach, in which the gardening interval is a reward for completing our less palatable duties.

I seems much easier to get into the garden, than to get out of it, however. All serious gardeners are familiar with the elasticity of time, something we are told is a fixed unit. We’re taught that every second is the same length, determined by atomic clocks based on the hyperfine (microwave) transitions in hydrogen-1, cesium-133, and rubidium-7. Each minute equals 60 seconds, etc.

Nevertheless, in the garden we seem to enter Einstein’s realm of relativity. Well, maybe not exactly. Einstein’s theory says that time expands or contracts depending on how fast the observer is moving. My theory of gardening relativity is that garden time expands or contracts depending upon how much fun the gardener is having. Not much fun = expanding time. Lots of fun = contracting time.

Last year, I inserted some gardening work between the time I first start writing and the time I shower (seemed like a practical decision). I take the cell phone with me for two reasons: For 911 calls in case I accidentally slice off one of my own limbs, and to know when garden time is up. Usually, I was having way too much fun and garden time ended too soon. On auspicious days, I’d find any excuse to justify staying in the garden. Looking back now, each of these were times that I, as Eric advises, allowed myself to “do the thing your heart actually wants to do.”

I thought I needed at least 30 – 60 minutes, but I look forward to experimenting with the idea of considering fifteen, or even five, minutes in the garden as vast.

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