Back to the Garden


Today I drove to the edge of the city on personal business. Issaquah is not Seattle, but it is still busy all the time. The town is set up for driving and consuming. More shopping, activity, and eating options in that place than in all of Kittitas County (also more parking spaces). A bit overwhelming for someone who prefers to walk as much as possible and live frugally. Too many choices!

After my meeting, I browsed in a bookstore. A lifelong bibliophile, I have an irrational weakness for reading and books. My collection has outgrown its current storage space in the house, and books spill over onto every surface. I’ve been culling a few, and have drawn plans for new bookshelves. I wonder about using an e-reader, but haven’t made the leap yet. So I am reluctant to buy more books, but I came home with two today: When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams, and Wabi Sabi by Diane Durston. I also stocked up on food items that are not available locally.

Crossing back over to the east side of the mountains always brings relief from the hustle-bustle lifestyle of the urban wilderness. My senses felt singed around the edges by the pace and all that stuff. The truck came to a stop in the driveway and I gratefully got out. Here’s my cat, the beehive, blooming crocuses! I made a cup of tea to carry outside and reconnected to home by tinkering in the garden. Cut some kale to bring inside, and also the overwintered brussels sprouts.

I love the ‘Wild Garden Kale’ mixture from Territorial Seed. The seeds produce a variety of shapes and colors, and the plants are robust enough to survive the winter under the plastic tunnel. When the days start to get longer and warmer, the plants revive and I enjoy fresh kale again. Brussels sprouts require a long growing season, so my plants didn’t get very big before winter arrived. But they held on through snowstorms and weeks of below-freezing weather to grow again this spring. They’re not large, but I expect they will be sweet and tender. Also coming back to life are spinach, lettuce and mustard greens I planted last fall. In another week I can harvest small leaves. And I’ve started new seeds too–cress, radishes, lettuce, and microgreens. I’ve never grown the latter, so this is an experiment. Salad and greens have been favorites of mine for years, and recently I’ve increased my intake of all sorts of greens. I avoided illness this past winter, and I attribute that at least partially to spinach, kale, etc. The stuff is just plain healthy.

The tension of my busy day drained out my fingertips as I dug into the damp soil. Sprinkled a few more lettuce seeds and watered them in. Plucked some dandelions and chickweed. Observed earthworms and other invertebrates in the raised beds, glad to see that the addition of compost over the years has built good ground for them to live in. Soil is the foundation for growing food, and the mindful gardener tends it lovingly.

I came in to wash the kale and make some supper. Looked at the wabi sabi book. The concept originated in Japan and is difficult to capture in English. It has to do with simplicity, imperfection, rusticity, impermanence, and the patina of age. It is the art of the every day. The author quotes Leonard Koren: wabi sabi is the “beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete..a beauty of things modest and humble…a beauty of things unconventional.”

Of course this appeals to me very much, and I expect to return to this small book of quotes and short prose again and again. There is joy in the handmade and homegrown, and also the paying of attention. After being out of my element much of the day, to return to the garden was just right. This bit from Rachel Carson fits:

“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties know wonder and humility.”

One thought on “Back to the Garden

  1. Oh how I envy you talking about your garden already growing when I still have 8 feet of snow on top of mine. Our tulips and daffodils will be coming up in late July.

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