I just read somewhere that wood becomes petrified stone in only one hundred years. Is that true? Some mornings it takes me longer than that to leave the house. How can I say this next part respectfully? Respectfully to me, that is. In the past few years I’ve (mostly) lost my taste for self-deprecation, even if I’m not always sure what replaces that when I present myself to the world. But still. I’m ... not good at everything. In fact, I’m impressively magical in some regards and surprisingly, consistently horrendously inept at others.
Let us briefly consider gardening. In my dream life I’m a model gardener. You know the kind. Nourishing, generous, patient with the process. Organized, methodical. Having faith that the tiny seeds planted today will bring beauty and feed us later in the Summer. Wide open arms. Deep wrinkly tan. Crusty hands that prove my dirt-cred.
In real life — well, it’s a mess. I have great intentions. I like to plan things and plant them but eventually that tapers off until I truly forget that the lawn even exists. The sun burns me, and I take that personally. And my brain shuts off in hot weather. So when Spring turns to Summer, things get ugly. How ugly? Let’s just say that after someone called code enforcement on the weeds in my front garden some years ago I swore to keep it all hidden in the back but then never actually got around to going out there. Gardening brings out all my best intentions and weepy shameful secrets.
But here’s my brand new thing. I’m all about being a mediocre gardener. Possibly even sub-mediocre. I think this has promise. I’m aiming low, and taking pride in it. This does not come naturally to me. I have a strong urge to CONQUER GARDENING AND WIN. Oh, honey. Clearly that hasn’t worked. But I also don’t want to be excluded from the world of growing things just because that didn’t pan out. There’s no reason I have to be. We don’t have to be great at everything. And we don’t have to avoid things we aren’t Instagrammably-perfect at.
Right? Please say yes. Because that’s my working theory. I’m aiming low and having fun. This is my gardening fantasy for the year:
1. I want to grow some catnip for Jimmy Patterson. It’s related to mint, right? So it should be easy.
2. I want to keep throwing squash seeds into corners of the back yard whenever I bake a squash, and see if any grow.
That’s it. That’s the whole thing. The crucial part for me is that I’m not going to avoid it because I’m not perfect at it. I’m going to do just enough to enjoy myself, and I’m going to laugh really hard if we end up with 28 foot long squash vines winding their way all over. There’s nothing wrong with an easy win. In fact, I think we all deserve one now and then. That includes you.
Honestly I put all that would-be-gardening energy into Secret Lentil. It’s what I’m good at. My studio is my garden, even if that’s a cheesy metaphor. That’s where I plant seeds. That’s where I tend to tender little saplings of ideas. That’s where I look back on what sprouted last year and consider what I want to try in that same bed next season. It’s what’s in my head before I’m even awake in the morning. It’s the place where I’m endlessly curious and fascinated, where I have connection and continuity, both to the work and to you. It’s what I’ve got to give. It’s where preparing the path, doing the work, tending to the process makes sense to me. Forging. Picking. Pushing. Growing. Making. Laying the groundwork. Words I have no right to in other realms are suitable here. I can own them. I can speak them. They belong to me here. And having that, here in this one place, is plenty. It’s enough.
Here's my new collection, groundwork: