On a cold, wind-swept, winter’s day in the parking lot of Dillard’s, Mike Frankel, the general guru and factotum of the Artists’ Coalition, along with his dog, Satchel, a pit bull mix, asked me for a favor. He said that the Artist’s Coalition was thinking of sponsoring a tour of several gardens. Putting his hand on my shoulder as Satchel sidled up to me, leaning against my calf, he said, “Hey, Dana, would you be willing for your garden to be a part of the tour.” As a member of the Artists’ Coalition, meine Űberfrau nodded, and I replied, “Sure. I don’t see why not.” Little did I know.
I heard nothing for a long time, and then
Tucker, a member of the Artists’ Coalition and a Master
Gardener, asked me again, this time saying that the tour would be sponsored by
the Coalition, the Master Gardeners’ Association, and Viola’s. Once again, I innocently said that I would.
The tour itself was a delight. On a Saturday from 11:00 to 4:00 about 250 to 300 people roamed through our front and back yards. Nothing was pulled up or stamped on. No one was untoward. Everyone was well-behaved. Our dogs, Katrina and Petite, stayed upstairs, out of the way and held it in until the last couple left. As
said, “The people were mellow.” I have
never been amongst such as pleasant and warm-hearted group of people as those
with whom Gretchen and I shared our garden.
We compared notes on gardening, failures, successes, and bafflements. In spite of being an old introverted curmudgeonly
Calvinist, I enjoyed everyone. Meine Űberfrau said to me afterwards, “See, I told you that you’d have a
Years ago while standing in a bait shop at Convict Lake, California, at the end of fishing season and the beginning of deer hunting season, the place was a mix of fisherman and hunters. What a contrast of personality types! The hunters were more on edge, aggressive and the fishermen easy going, laid back.
Gardeners are much like fisherman, save for the fact that they don’t spin elaborations on the truth. Of course, some tomateers tend to brag too much about the early date and size of their tomatoes, but they can be forgiven that since growing tomatoes is an intense love affair betwixt the gardener and the tomato plant. Worse yet, it is always fraught with the possibility of heartbreak so that tomateers are always on the edge of grief. Carrots and beans don’t promise the possibility of catastrophe.
While in the army as a young man, I was a Sergeant/Major in a unit of hunters. We hunted human beings, such as saboteurs, deserters, and criminals, usually with the admonition of bringing them back alive. It was called counter-intelligence. We had the aggressive mentality of conquest, of getting someone. Not so with fishermen and gardeners. Fishermen engage in a battle of wits with the wily trout, and it says something about human intelligence the frequency with which the trout wins.
Gardeners are not in a fight with anything or anyone, save malicious bugs. Gardeners are cooperating with God’s creation. Instead of referring to God’s creation, some people call creation by the word “nature,” but that’s like thanking your mother-in-law for your wife.
The fact is that gardeners are fuguing on God’s themes embedded in the creation. They’re not conquering or mastering it, much less destroying it. They’re elaborating. This fact shapes their personalities. They are a happier lot.
Getting ready to welcome the gardeners meant time and money spiffying up the joint. Also, we called in two friends,
Freddi Steele and Tam Nguyen, to help as hosts. They were indispensably gracious. It was something like getting ready for a big
party. The place had to be cleaned up,
weeds pulled, everything trimmed and fertilized, new gravel put down, and
what-have-you. It was quite an
undertaking, but it was worth it. The
party was successful, especially with such guests. They were not only mellow, they were
enjoyable. As a place to meet people,
I’ll take a group of gardeners, like the Master Gardeners, any day over
habitués swilling at a bar.
Copyright © Dana Prom Smith 2014
Dana Prom Smith and
Freddi Steele edit Gardening Etcetera for the Daily Sun. Smith emails at email@example.com and blogs at http://highcountrygardener.blogspot.com.