An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of December 29, 2002
issued from  the woods just south of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

GARDENERS ARE NICE PEOPLE

The other day Newsletter subscriber David Buttross wrote from Austin, Texas that he was coming to Natchez for a wedding and that he'd sure like some cuttings from the fig trees I've mentioned here several times. He and Mrs. Buttross arrived Friday afternoon and we got the cuttings.

David has just retired and Mrs. Buttross has hooked him on gardening. One thing she said was that "David is discovering that people who like gardening are really nice people."

Of course I agreed with that, and if we'd had more time I might have launched into my theories on the matter. I even suspect that if anyone begins gardening as an unsavory individual, eventually the earth and garden plants and critters will communicate into that person a mellowness and a wisdom that will improve them. I think that nearly all human behavior and attitudes are profoundly influenced by paradigms that invisibly share our space with us. A paradigm is a kind of pattern, and I think that a garden's abstract patterns imprint themselves into us.

In fact, I see the Earth itself as the appropriate working paradigm for any garden, and any productive and beautiful garden as the working paradigm for a healthy human soul. In the garden when we're hunched over pulling chickweed from our radishes or laboriously spading mulch into the soil, when we reach that level of communion with the garden in which we are no longer thinking of ourselves at all but rather simply doing our best to make our gardens beautiful and productive, a current of harmony begins flowing through the Earth --> garden --> human-spirit continuum. It is a good, healthy current charged with the spirits of mingled moist earth, flower perfume and human generosity, and it imparts to all it flows through delight and the fruits of delight. Facebook Icon.