Monday, December 03, 2007


The Rev. Dana Prom Smith, S.T.D., Ph.D. (11/17/07)

Meine Überfrau runs upstairs, hops in the shower, jumps in her jeans, and runs to the store. She’ll be back in a minute. A junket to Trader Joe’s is just a hop, skip, and a jump. Yeah, sure, hopping right over the Mogollon Rim, skipping Black Canyon City, and jumping onto the 101. She hasn’t pole vaulted upstairs yet. I live in dread of clearing the hurdles.

I like to mosey into the day, sneaking into it so that it won’t know I’m there, that is, until I hear that chirpy voice, “I’m awake.” Then, I know my cover is blown. Gretchen says my sotto style is a carryover from my times of stealth in military counter-intelligence and that it’s time for me to change. Fat chance.

What’s appalling is that she’s not unique. Most of the women I know are always running somewhere. When leaving a meeting, they don’t just get up and leave, saying “See ya ‘round.” No, they’ve “got to run.”

Quick living afflicts men as well as women. I watched a middle-aged guy I know fast-walk up the sidewalk in front of our house with stopwatch in hand. He’s reasonably sane, actually quite enjoyable, but, there he was, racing against time, rather than enjoying his walk.

There aren’t any stop watches in gardening. It’s like scratching a dog’s belly. Slow time. Seeds don’t respond to commands, such as, “Hop to it.” When I set out my tomato seedlings in the spring enclosed in their walls of water, I don’t shout, “Now, hit it.” If I did, they’d wither. I wait, slow time, for a couple of months, and then they produce more than we can eat. If people don’t want to wait, then they’re destined to eat those supermarket papier-mâché wannabes.

Like a good pot roast, gardening is done slow time, especially with plants. It’s best to plant them small and let them grow big, allowing them slowly to get acquainted with their surroundings. If they’re double- timed planted big, they don’t acclimate well, suffering shock and desiccation. Besides, who wants a gang of instant teenagers? Part of the pleasure is watching them grow up.

The seasons aren’t on speed dial, either. Some yahoo always wants winter “get a move on.” Such language will likely result in June snowstorms. Pushing the seasons elicits a push back. As my Greek professor said, “Gentlemen, we don’t break God’s law. We break ourselves against it.” That’s certainly the case with global warming.

Into instant gratification, speed gardeners are global warmers who gravel their yards or plaster them with concrete and asphalt. After heating themselves up with their radiator yards, they go inside the house and flip on the air conditioner.

One of the worst things the English ever did was to invent the clock. Actually, the malady of keeping time goes way back to 7th century Muslims. However, the mechanical clock was invented by Richard of Wallingford in 1336. The problem with the clock is that some damned fool is always trying “to beat the clock” which is akin to running “a race against time.” Another chronological malady is being “on time” or, worse yet, “being late.” I’ve even heard fast track, stopwatch gardeners say that their tomatoes are “late this year” as though they were tardy and needed an excuse for the gardener.

A garden takes “its own good time,” like the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare. By now, we should know enough to bet on the tortoise rather than the hare, but we don’t. Harried, we continue betting on the hare. Better yet, we should sync with real time.

Several years ago when rafting down the American River, the rafter, a doctoral student in philosophy at Berkeley, philosophized about running the rapids. “The first principle is: don’t fight the water’s power. You’ll lose and crack your head on a rock or get sucked into a whirlpool. The second is: cooperate with it and you might win. No guarantee, but a fighting chance.” Don’t fight the natural processes, use them, relax, enjoy the ride, and you might get there. No speed trials.

Copyright © Dana Prom Smith 2007

1 comment:

Sonia said...

Seems as though a life time of change has occured in only a few months. Thanks for the reminder to slow down, catch my breath, and enjoy. Miss you guys