I never thought of myself as a gardener. Yes, I could plant things and they would grow, mostly. I could till and tend. But I never had the ‘bug’ to be serious about it. I watched my grandfather tirelessly work his fields from dawn to dusk and sometimes later. He was a dry land farmer. He employed no irrigation—always mindful of the weather. I often helped him in the planting and harvest until my young body complained. Grandpa’s leathery skin, toughened hands, and hardened determination could take almost anything.
Now I feel I might have the bones of a farmer-gardener, first hardened by a farm in northeast Colorado and now tested in my back yard. Tarn and I have created a small croft (I rather like this British term) with blueberries, kale, carrots, peppers, and all sorts of trees and flowers. Mindful of water resources, we are beginning to xeriscape a portion of our yard with native high desert plants. I like to think grandpa might be smiling. He might also be laughing at how long it took for me to remember my roots!
The gardener in me walks barefoot on the grass and the native stones I have placed to create a khora path. As I circumambulate the native garden, offering mantras for the benefit of all beings, the soles of my feet feel a subtle vibration emanating from the earth. This is something difficult to perceive in shoes or in a building. I get a tingling feeling, as if micro-cilia of subterranean fungus is tickling my toes. I connect to all living things around me and I talk to them—conversing with birds at our feeder, pollinators on flowers, plants above and roots below. Perhaps being a gardener is akin to being insane. But I do not care.
Padmasambhava, the ninth century Tibetan Buddhist sage, prophesied that during this time in history, sane people would be perceived as insane and insane people would be in charge. I laugh at his prophetic vision. I hope the garden and the Dharma has called me to be one of those sane folks that just look insane. I pray the insane people in charge will loosen their ties, take off their shoes, and walk in the grass. Maybe they will plant a garden and listen.