Monday, September 13, 2010

Gardening as Metaphor

After this morning's rain, a cleansing wind swept in and opened the clouds. I finished reading a very good book - Allegra Goodman's latest, The Cookbook Collector - and headed to my community garden plot as the sun beamed down.
For a variety of reasons, one of them a kind of benign neglect, I have been allowing my little plot to do its own thing. Being the end of the summer, and not the middle, members of the Compositae Family tend to be most visible. Many species of sunflowers, asters, and goldenrod appear everywhere in the Eastern forest zone. The predominance of yellow hues really brings to mind light and flames. How fitting!
However, it's an embarrassment of riches. My plot is tiny, so a large Rudbeckia plant (pictured) and several Jerusalem Artichoke/sunchoke plants (Helianthus tuberosum L.) took over. My carrots, new arugula and sorrel were all overshadowed by the towering stems and foliage.
Today, since the sunchokes had stopped flowering, I felt I had permission to yank them from the soil. I pulled up about 10 plants in all, and harvested the potato-like tubers. The stems and spent flowers all went into the compost pile. Their day in the sun was over. To everything a season!
I certainly opened up the plot to what's left of the year's useful sunshine. My undernourished leaf and root crops might have a chance now.
According to Kahlil Gibran (if I recall my adolescent reading of The Prophet), "love will be your growth, but it will also be your pruning." Indeed, a very close connection to another person can lop off the odd "dead branch," much like on an old rose bush, allowing us to grow better. (I'm thinking of the loss of bad habits and routines, and openness to new plans.) Gibran also might have meant weeding the garden of the soul. Love forces us to re-evaluate ourselves by changing our surroundings like the shifting seasons; things we took for granted no longer apply, at least not in the same way. It may be comforting to cling to old ways of thinking, and allow the status quo to continue without question. However, well-timed change can do wonders.
Not too late to let in more light. In my garden, at least six weeks remain for the greens to catch up, and I may have a nice salad to go with some delicious sunchoke fritters in October.

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