This year has seen me embark on a mission to become more self-sufficient, to rely less on commercial produce and instead try to live more naturally. This has included activities such as eating more in tune with the seasons to improve my overall health, so when I came across a charming blog about Robin Wall Kimmerer I became more enthused to redevelop my garden to grow my own food.
Robin wall Kimmerer was a botanist and nature writer who has examined the relationship we have with our gardens in Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants a book merging botany, Native American mythology, natural history and philosophy.
The blog I read focused on a charming passage where Kimmerer brings together her scientific training with her storytelling heritage, considering happiness as a relationship between natural earth and human spirit.
The extract made me realise the relationship I have with nature and the potential enjoyment I am missing out on while I have a very poor garden space. I am left feeling more enthused to do something about it, even if it is something as simple as growing some beans. I’ve shared with you below the extracted text as it seems connected to my earlier posts on edible gardening, growing your own crops and living the best life possible through gratitude:
It came to me while picking beans, the secret of happiness.
I was hunting among the spiralling vines that envelop my teepees of pole beans, lifting the dark-green leaves to find handfuls of pods, long and green, firm and furred with tender fuzz. I snapped them off where they hung in slender twosomes, bit into one, and tasted nothing but August, distilled into pure, crisp beaniness… By the time I finished searching through just one trellis, my basket was full. To go and empty it in the kitchen, I stepped between heavy squash vines and around tomato plants fallen under the weight of their fruit. They sprawled at the feet of the sunflowers, whose heads bowed with the weight of maturing seeds.
Later in the book, writer Kimmerer describes what it means to her the connection between land and the commitment of good parenthood, whether it be a child or Mother Earth:
They complain about garden chores, as kids are supposed to do, but once they start they get caught up in the softness of the dirt and the smell of the day and it is hours later when they come back into the house. Seeds for this basket of beans were poked into the ground by their fingers back in May. Seeing them plant and harvest makes me feel like a good mother, teaching them how to provide for themselves. […]
How do I show my girls I love them on a morning in June? I pick them wild strawberries. On a February afternoon we build snowmen and then sit by the fire. In March we make maple syrup. We pick violets in May and go swimming in July. On an August night we lay out blankets and watch meteor showers. In November, that great teacher the woodpile comes into our lives. That’s just the beginning. How do we show our children our love? Each in our own way by a shower of gifts and a heavy rain of lessons.
Maybe it was the smell of ripe tomatoes, or the oriole singing, or that certain slant of light on a yellow afternoon and the beans hanging thick around me. It just came to me in a wash of happiness that made me laugh out loud, startling the chickadees who were picking at the sunflowers, raining black and white hulls on the ground. I knew it with a certainty as warm and clear as the September sunshine. The land loves us back. She loves us with beans and tomatoes, with roasting ears and blackberries and birdsongs. By a shower of gifts and a heavy rain of lessons. She provides for us and teaches us to provide for ourselves. That’s what good mothers do.
Don’t you agree it is such a beautiful way to describe the relationship we can have with nature and ourselves? I am not a mother (yet) but I can create a garden and take from it not only the food it provides but also the wisdom and self-improvement it has to offer too.