Picnic Table Naturalist, Page 2: Buzz

(image from: http://www.dereila.ca/whispers/HoneyBee3.jpg)

The Picnic Table Naturalist, Page 2 – Buzz

In his almanac-style journal, The Rural Life, Verlyn Klinkenborg writes about gardeners in early spring, calling them “ordinary mortals [that] find themselves nearly defeated by the gardening deadlines that pass so swiftly”. To this I can only add an amen, and consider further an earlier phrase he uses, “anxious pleasure”. Another word for this condition could be buzz; which is, in this case, a natural high.

The word buzz brings to mind both the early honey bee, just beginning his frenetic foray into all things blooming, as well as that fizzy, slightly vertiginous feeling one gets in their head from too much coffee, a hearty drag from a cigarette, or other such vices. My particular buzz-du jour comes from, as Klinkenborg alluded to, the harried pace of gardening preparation that is endemic to this time of year. Perusing the catalogs for those last-minute seeds or chemicals; sketching out the (soon-to-be ignored) new year’s schematic for the raised beds; fussing over the seedlings which seem to languish, then burst out all at once…this buzz comes over me: last week’s just happened to be brought on by the freshly-remembered idea of ground covers – “green fertilizer”, to those green thumbs out there – for this year’s garden.

There is a weird dichotomy at play here, though. On the one hand, I feel this spinning top of a drive in my gut and my head and hands, pulling me mind and body into the soil, and that gradually burgeoning milieu. However, as often happens in spring, I get ahead of myself, and allow my mind to overtake my hands – and then I end up running out of gardening tasks to take on, because I was in too much of a hurry. It’s a race against an indefatigable yet friendly rival: time. Learning to neither race ahead – succumbing to that buzz in our heads – nor lag behind – giving in too often to the slumber that “so easily entangles” in warm spring sunshine – are both crucial. A balance is necessary. And one important key I’ve found to maintaining that balance is to simply be in the garden. What better place to be, than in the very space where your plans will come into action, and make the most impact? Laying out a schematic bedding plan, and plotting when to best start seeds or order supplies: these are all preparations which fall roughly into the theoretical, or in the supporting role, if you will. The lead role is that of the garden itself, and if you stay in it, and breathe and feel it, it will be easier to maintain a balance, and not let that buzz spin us faster than is necessary. Bees of necessity need that hurried pace to keep up with what nature provides them...we, on the other hand, have (for better or for worse) groceries and commercial foods to make up for the slack in our gardening...or, as the year may turn out, the gardening makes up for the slack in the budget.

Spring, after all, is a time to savor and enjoy, and being in a garden is a valuable part of that. Gardening is a partnership or it is nothing – and a good partnership has a lot to do with good timing.

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