A Return

The drought persists and smoke from an ever-growing number of wildfires still muffles the sky and obliterates the mountains, turning the landscape unfamiliar, dimensionless. Watered religiously through the dry months, the garden nevertheless has a distrustful, withholding quality. New growth is slow and leaves blighted by the parching heat of July and August curl like little dead hands, clinging to their resentments.

Where is the space for the generativity, hope, joy of gardening at such a time as this? When drought- weakened forests succumb to insatiable fire? When the ghosts of thousands of charred trees haunt the hillsides and fill our lungs. When I am filled with sadness, fear, foreboding, anger, guilt. Can the garden hold all of this? Is this a conversation that can be had through the language of gardening (planting, tilling, watering)? When decades, probably centuries of ignorance, avarice, indifference, carelessness, denial culminates in the ruin of what is most beloved and we – none of us – can stand faultless before the unmistakable evidence of our destructive nature. Is it too late to garden? Is a garden too small, too insignificant a gesture in the face of such enormities?

2 thoughts on “A Return

  1. I’ve had similar thoughts, even without fires close by. The intense heat at the end of June, and almost no rain for months suggest that the seasonal patterns we gardeners think of as normal may no longer be so. That is unsettling.

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  2. It’s terrifying. Don’t give up. Small gestures matter. Your garden might only be a sanctuary for a few birds, possibly a frog, some insects, several worms, a collection of plants, some trees…for them, you might be a lifesaver. Good to see you back here!

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