Monday, February 25, 2008

Garden Diary

I continue reading Joyce McGreevy's book Gardening by Heart. I am wowed by her outlook and pleasant prose. McGreevy's writing prompts my own words. She has wonderful ideas worth repeating and discussing.

This morning I woke to the sun shining before 7AM. It struck me as something special. My husband had not yet left for work and it was not pitch black! When did this happen? When did dark mornings give way to promises of spring just around the corner?

As Kevin showered, I stayed in my warm bed heated by the lovely heated mattress pad he bought for me. (We still must keep the heated mattress pad on because though winter has relented a bit on sunshine, it has not relented enough to let the heat accompany it.) I picked up McGreevy's book and read the cahpter "Summer's Over When You See the Naked Ladies." (Doesn't that chapter title just make you want to run right out to read this book?!) In the chapter, McGreevy discusses the value of keeping a nature diary.

I was immediately excited, recalling the diary I kept of my first garden in Londonderry NH. I gardened on a basically bare plot of land and built something I found beautiful. In the diary I recorded my first stabs at gardening on my own. Luckily this morning I had the presence of mind to wait until my daughter awoke, rather than running right by her door to dig through my office for my treasured gardening journal. I continued to read...

"Keeping a journal is as open to possibilities as gardening itself. There is no one way to do it. It can bloom along the margins of an existing journal or apoointment book. It can command a place of its own, tellising sentences like sweet peas along the blue lines of a notepad or spreading out in all directions on the virgin ground of a blank book..."

The diary can include sketches and photographs. Some days I write essays about my blooms and work. Other days I write one word entries. "HOT!" I skip whole years of my gardening diaries. Sometimes they become blended with my "regular" every day diary.

I have been a journal-keeper just about all my life. In college one of my favorite classes focused on the function of journal writing for women throughout history. I still own my very first diary from 1982 with Strawberry Shortcake on the cover. In it I recorded the wonders of a seventh grader's life.

"My Dad wants me to be on the basketball Team.
I bought some newts today. I named them Harvey, Newton, Freckles and Baseball. I put three guppies in with them.
Should I ask Rob if he wants to see 'Dark Crystals' with me. It sounds like a good movie. With Rob there it would be even better."

(AH! Youth. Luckily, the budding archivist in me had the presence of mind to date the diary.)

As with any diary, a garden diary should record your realizations, whims, and fantasies. It will help you remember important gardening events in your life. It will help you grow as a gardener, encouraging you to experiment, reminding you of past failed ventures and successes. The journal is also something fun to examine on a cold winter day, reminding you why you are so excited for spring to get here, helping you pause to better see the beauty you can create in your own backyard.

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