23 Jan 2015

The Freedom of Not Speaking

Ponder this seeming oxymoron for a moment. In light of recent events, I thought it apropos to bring to light that while grateful to live in a part of the world where, until recently, freedom of speech was taken for granted, that for some of us, it is the freedom of not speaking that resonates to our core. It is often referred to as being introverted. I prefer my own moniker: of being solitudinous. This is my story.

From a very early age, I realized that I was 'different' from the other rough and tumble boys who were  my schoolmates. I was more content to sit on the swing with my female classmates, even adopting the role of 'Ken' when the dolls came out. I was an observant child. I guess I wanted to know what made me so different. Perhaps it was a childhood trauma, but I also like to think that perhaps it had more to do with the fact that I discovered at a very early age that quietude and solitude would come to be two of my steadfast most relied upon qualities as I grew older. A friend once commented that I was more at home in the spoils of Nature than I was with fellow human beings. It gave a moments pause to ponder before I thanked them for such a compliment. [Of course the look on their face did nothing to bely their confusion! One of the reasons we are steadfast friends to this day!]

Finding a comfort within my own skin took some time. I embarked upon a pilgrimage to the mecca of all things gay in Ontario - that being Toronto of the late Eighties. I was essentially chasing a dream, a fantasy I had created of the places and people as I would like them to be, [what song are these exact lyrics from?] and perhaps it took this being transplanted into a totally alien surrounding for me to realize that life isn't always the fantasy we create and want it to be. Eventually I settled into a much more laid back, quiet existence, where I was able to focus on the things that were really important to me. I needed to be somewhere that I would be able to enjoy unending moments of quietude - not so as to be able to slip into a fantasy world - but more so to be able to shut off the outside world when it all got to be too noisy. Friends have unwittingly referred to me as the introvert in the group, but as I mentioned earlier, I like to refer to it as my being 'solitudinous.' 

So how does this relate to my blog? How many gardeners [those who approach it as more than just a hobby] would consider themselves to be introverts? I do not think we should ponder for very long. What five words instantly pop into your head when you think of the word gardening:

Nature, beauty, life, escape and solitude

My garden is my refuge, my solace in a world gone mad. It is one of the only places where I can come to and know that there is some magical barrier that, once I am totally immersed in it, creates an invisible vacuum around itself and I so that we are the only things that exist. Does this make sense to you? I can still see what is going on around me but it is almost like an afterthought. My focus is on the abundant life that is before my eyes. Spring is without a doubt my most favourite season of the year. There is an invisible song that has hibernated in the soil with my favourite plants all winter long, and on one very specific day, as the temperatures increase, and the soil starts to warm, it emits its delicate, tender notes that only the plants themselves can hear. The sun shines longer and brighter, the birds begin their Spring symphony - everything is reawakening - including myself. While I love the snow, ice and cold of Winter - I have come to rely upon four distinct seasonal changes in the year - I am also keenly aware that I suffer from SAD. The lack of sunshine and the transition of my daily activity levels can sometimes wreak havoc. My own awareness of this has helped me to adapt to it in recent years so that it is not so disruptive to my life. But alas, I digress!

Soon afterwards, the first signs of stirring become evident. The soil undergoes a brief ripping and tearing asunder as the rambunctious stems of my favourite plants burst forth. One of my most favourite sights at this time of year are the tiny green spikes, each one clothed in a light pink cloak that tell me they can be nothing other than my beloved Polygonatum! It is also the time of year when the garden emits a fragrance that is decidedly earth like. It is as though the future growth of the plants have released an aromatic residue. While one might look silly laid out atop his garden, it is at moments such as this that I want to put myself as close to my newly emerging treasures is as humanly possible. [I think these photos can attest to such!]

There is so much visible life at this time of year. It acts as a reaffirmation of the uniquely cyclical life force that we ourselves are intrinsically bound to. It is my belief that this cycle is best viewed within the garden. There is an unsullied honesty to it all - a return to the 'survival of the fittest' in its most simplistic form. Death occurs in the garden, and exempting those instances where we, the garden's sentinels have tampered with Nature, we have come to rely upon it as this very 'affirmation' that we too follow a similar circle in life, albeit one that we have sullied and made much more complicated than it need be! But again, I digress.

Words are indeed spoken within my garden, but they are for the most part uttered with amazement - they are for me 'true' words, for no other purpose than to express your inner happiness and bliss at this magic that lay before your eyes.

'Look at you! Last year you were half this size. I thought I was going to lose you over the winter!'

This pontification is followed by a gentle caress of its delicate, deeply incised bright green foliage. For weeks afterward you will stop to ensure that the resident slugs are leaving it well enough alone. Granted, they too have to survive, but perhaps you steer them in the direction of the sacrificial Hosta you planted for exactly this reason. The symbiotic relationship that exists within the garden!

We live in a world that through my eyes is far more noisier and complicated than it need be. We are slaves to a technology, that while feeding into our uniquely human imaginations, has also rendered us contentless. The natural life cycle of humanity has been heartbreakingly sullied and shortened by any number of reasons: disease, war, and hunger but only three! Our lives are dictated by the very same passage of time that the 'cycle' of life relies upon, but is being viewed through carnival glass! It has been distorted to fit very specific, often invisible needs. It is time to return to the garden people!



I bet most gardeners are introverts. We thrive on solitude. Being immersed in nature's wonders gives us the best satisfaction. Have a great weekend, Barry.

Alain said...

I think you are right that the first words that come to the gardener's mind are Nature, beauty, life, escape and solitude. Perhaps we can add amazement at seeing nature reborn so richly every spring.

Barry said...

Alain: Indeed, the word amazement now comes to mind. It is in fact due to the amazement that confronts me near every time I walk into the garden, that I am often rendered speechless! Thanks so much for visiting. Returning the favour. Lovely blog!

cheryl said...

Hi Barry, you're not alone in your post. My garden is a reprieve from this crazy world. I have ceased watching nightly news, having a difficult time comprehending the evil unleashed when we are all the same under a different pigment.
I must admit my garden is my Eden. It's the first place I go to after arriving home from work. Drop the bag, open the patio door and wander about, and yes I too talk to plants. I sometimes think my neighbours think me a tad off kilter but do I care? Nope, not at all. This is MY sanctuary.
I ordered The Wild Braid after reading your post and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you ! I may think differently if I find ssssssssss in the garden but I doubt it :) The frogs are more important.
You really have a wonderful writing skill and should seriously think about creating a book. I'm sure there are independent publishers who would love to assist you. I self published last year because it was a dream of mine but for you and your wealth of knowledge and passion, they would be beating down the door to have you.
Spring is not far off as the days are longer and me nose twitches. Here's to a long, warm spring full of babies beloved.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

I too feel the same way sweetie ... I am never "not" amazed with what goes on in my garden .. and am most happy when I am on my own although I am VERY grateful to have Garden PA's help when i need it.
Like you the forest saved me as a child. It was my gift from the insanity of my home life. I will always appreciate that and the sea ..
I'm not sure what makes us such loners but I am happy to be one so that can be called a gift as well.
I say we garden loners are exceptional people !! ;-)