Monday, February 8, 2010

Why bother? A manifesto..

It's been a while since my last post because, well, last week sucked. It was wrought with a-lot-more-than-normal workplace stress, the usual list of household chores, and this nagging cold that is trying it's best to drag me down. It's like running a marathon with a 30lb toddler clinging to each thigh and there are days when I feel like the race is futile. And why, on top of everything else in life, should I include the "burden" of growing food for my family when there are three perfectly good grocery stores and two fruit and vegetable stands within a one mile radius of my house?

I'll be honest - that thought found its way into my head several times over the last week (each time that I checked on the seedlings that desperately need to be repotted - nope, still not done). And I'm sure my husband wonders why I bother - each time I buy another pot or more soil ammendments and definitely throughout all six hours it took us to replace our garbage disposer yesterday (totally not an easy fix for the inexperienced plumber / electrician, fyi).

So why subject myself to more responsibilities? Well, anytime I get discouraged about something, I find it helps to write about it. Sometimes it's just getting my feelings on paper, sometimes it's a list of pros and cons. And what better place to keep a record of my gardening motivations, right? So, in case you were wondering, this is why (in no particular order):

1) Quality food for my family - I guess this is probably the main driver for most vegetable gardeners. I like knowing what is in my food. What chemicals it's been treated with. Where it's from. I'm not a big fan of eating "the idea of a tomato" from the grocery store. You know what I mean - tomatoes that are genetically engineered to withstand shipping with all regard for flavor out the window. And to make matters worse, they're picked green then forced to blush when doused with ethylene gas. No thank you, I'll grow my own. Plus - are you ever going to find patty pan squash in the grocery store? Or tangerine tomatoes? Or lemon cucumbers? No - at least not where I come from.

2) Where does our food come from? I remember a few years ago I asked my son if he knew where eggs come from. His answer? The store. I really think that was the pivitol moment for me. Sure, I didn't start gardening until years later, but I've always had that memory nagging at me. We should know where our food comes from, and I think we respect it more if we help put it on the table (whether that means growing your own food, or at least cooking from scratch every now and then). And let's face it - knowing how to grow your own food is really a basic survival skill. I don't think armageddon is around the corner, but my goodness, it's nice to know I have that skill just in case it's ever needed. And I want my son to have that skill as well. And if it means we get some quality time together, outdoors, working towards a common goal? Well, I'll take it.

3) Being a good steward - You know, God has really given me a lot to be thankful for. I have a wonderful family, food on the table, a roof over our heads, and I live in America, for crying out loud. Life isn't perfect, but I really am blessed. And for me, part of being blessed is respecting what I've been given and making the most out of it. I don't live in the "perfect" place for a garden. But you know what? I've got a little space. And my health. And some pots. I can't think of a better way to make the most out of what I've been given. And you know what else? My little garden is also my little way of being a good steward of the earth. My produce isn't flown in from the far side of the planet and grown under heaven-only-knows what kinds of conditions.. There is always more I can do to preserve our planet, but I do believe that every little bit helps.

5) And did I mention therapy? - It's nice to be outdoors, in the peace and harmony of the garden (unless it's under attack by beetles or rabbits or hornworms). Most of my life is run at a break-neck pace. There is always something urgent that needs my attention NOW! The garden, however, is patient and forgiving.. at least a little more than most of life's other demands... it doesn't need to eat RIGHT NOW, and it certainly doesn't need clean clothes. Sorry to sound like a bubble bath commercial, but a few minutes working in my garden and I literally feel the day's stresses melt away. Maybe my garden hasn't "turned a profit" yet, but I bet if we were to add up the savings from the psycho-therapists I haven't had to go to yet, we'd be in the black.

5) Why not? Maybe because I don't know what I'm doing. But heck - that hasn't stopped me before. I taught myself how to drive a standard transmission. How to can and preserve. How to knit. How to speak Chinese (just kidding - but don't put it past me). Surely, I can learn how to work with nature to provide safe, healthy food for my family.

Call it what you want - a passion or a hobby - gardening is good and I don't know of anyone who can argue that fact.


Erin said...

Fantastic post! We all have our days when we wonder if it's all "worth it". Of course it is, but you are right that sometimes we just need to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and remind ourselves, especially of all the benefits other than food that we get: exercise, mind & spirit rejuvenation, and a sense of well being. Thanks for reminding us all as we start getting ready for the work to begin again. You were spot on with every point you made. I kept thinking "yeah! exactly! and me too!" I think I will link your post on my blog if you don't mind, everyone can relate!

Caffeinated Mom said...

Thanks, Erin - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. You are too sweet! And of course you can link back. :-)

fullfreezer said...

Very, very well said. A friend got me a garden plaque a few years ago-you know, those little signs on a stick- but I love it. It says "Gardening- cheaper than a shrink". Truer words were never written.
Keep up the good work.

Ruralrose said...

Came here from Erin's blog. Excellent post, you hit all the nails on the heads. Peace

Annie's Granny said...

Bravo! Granny is giving you a standing ovation!

Honestly, I told Mr. H just tonight, my garden and my blog keep me young. Without a garden to share with my friends and neighbors, and without my blog to share with all my new internet friends, I'd just remove myself to a rocking chair and wait for old age to take its toll. But I'm too busy for old age!