Via Jeff Culbreath I found this marvelous essay on the hope, the joy, the true liberty in gardening with your own hands. It contains numerous little gems like this: “The planting of seeds in my garden, by hand, on my knees, is a simple action of rebellion against the modern order. It is an act of wisdom and significance in the midst of a foolish and vacuous world. It is voluntary submission to an older, higher calling.”
I do not yet have a garden to speak of. The house we bought last year sits on a considerable acreage, but it is massively overgrown. Right now, however, I am enjoying the fruits of the hard work I put in over the past year, clearing out a section of that overgrowth. In late March, to my surprised delight, a mass of rye grass (presumably with good shade tolerance) sprouted up in the section I had cleared. I did not plant the stuff. As a more knowledgeable friend remarked, you never know what will turn up when you clear out the weeds.
The appearance of the rye grass accelerated my timetable. I had planned on another year of clearing and tilling, followed by seeding early next spring. But with the rye coming up on its own, I decided to seed some fescue out there with it. That was six weeks ago. On Sunday I mowed the section for the first time. Thankfully, the drought in north Georgia has abated this spring, so it looks like I’ll have a good solid section of lawn by mid-summer. And I am already at work, clearing a different section in preparation for the garden.
So indeed I know something of the joy of this small “rebellion against the modern order.”
Now this post could hardly be complete without a quotation from our patron saint:
The man who makes an orchard where there has been a field, who owns the orchard and decides to whom it shall descend, does also enjoy the taste of apples; and let us hope, also, the taste of cider. But he is doing something very much grander, and ultimately more gratifying, than merely eating an apple. He is imposing his will upon the world in the manner of the charter given him by the will of God; he is asserting that his soul is his own, and does not belong to the Orchard Survey Department, or the chief Trust in the Apple Trade. But he is also doing something which was implicit in all the most ancient religions of the earth; in those great panoramas of pageantry and ritual that followed the order of the seasons in China or Babylonia; he is worshipping the fruitfulness of the world.
— Chesterton, The Well and the Shallows, 1935.