Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sitting Zazen Among the Onions

Those are some weedy onions.
This is probably going to sound crazy.  But, I'm used to the stares and finger-pointing now so it's okay.

I like to sit in my garden.  Literally sit in my garden.  On the ground, next to the onions, on a small cushion I purchased just for this exact use.  I like to sit there and pull the weeds out of my garden one by one.  When I run out of weeds within easy reach, I scootch my cushion along the path and weed some more.

My husband finds this all quite ridiculous.  I find it relaxing.  Sitting amongst the onions and cabbages is calming.  They are endlessly patient as I tease the bindweed out from around stems and uproot the pigweed and black nightshade pretending to be a pepper plant.

More onions with fewer weeds.

I pull the weeds.  I listen to the wind and the birds.  Cars go by on the street.  Trains roll by on the tracks horns blaring at the crossing.  Children ride bicycles or skateboards or those crazy hoverboards down the hill chattering with each other and laughing. And yet, I calmly sit with dirty hands and extended posture as I stretch to reach a weed just barely at my fingertips trying hard not to lose my hat or get a muscle cramp.

Happy onions.  They really seem happier once I've pulled most of the weeds.
There is a smell in the garden.  The smell of the earth and of growing things and of things rotting back into the earth.  There is a complete cycle there.  A cycle of birth, life, maturity, death, and the waiting for rebirth.  All of these things I ponder as I pull the weeds and clear the way for my desired plants to flourish, and therefore, nourish me in body as well as spirit.

My very first cabbage.
I've grown a lot of different things in my gardens over my lifetime.  In good times and bad, my garden has been my sanctuary.  It is a portal of sorts for me.  A portal to a very special and spiritual place that I just can't find any other way.  It is like brushing my fingertips against some divine being...being in the presence of something bigger than myself.  Sitting in my garden, the world shrinks down to a tiny place where there is just soil and weeds and pulling and scootching and more weeds with a constant undercurrent of my thoughts.

Zen.  It is very zen.  It is all so temporary and yet it is all so constant.  The garden is my constant companion.  Even in the dead of winter, the garden is there waiting for me.

The first harvest of the season.
It calls me and I go.  I grow the things. I watch them sprout and grow.  I tend them and they bear fruit which I consume and preserve for later consumption.  I share the bounty with those around me.

But, if I'm honest with myself, even if there were no bounty I'd do it just the same.  For me, the act of gardening is more than the sum of its parts.  It's more than a means to an end.  It's a life-giving process.  It's a part of something bigger than me.  Something that accepts me as I am...even with all the scootching on cushions and weed pulling and funny hats and contortionist poses.  It fills more than just my cupboards and my stomach.  It feeds my soul and fills my life with meaning.  I belong there.

Me and some of the tomatoes.
Kinda swell picture of the okra in the early morning.
The absolutely enormous flower of a volunteer squash vine.  This flower was at least 8 inches across. I can't wait to see what kind of squash grows from it!

The first broccoli of the year.  It was tasty in stir fry.

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