...is a discipline practiced by various members of my family. Whereas mainstream gardening consists in careful cultivation of some forms of plant life, to the vigilant exclusion of others, Negative Gardening is based on the beliefs:
- that all forms of life are good and deserve the right to flourish;
- that our attitude towards the things (and plants) Providence casts our way ought to be one of grateful acceptance, not miserly discrimination;
- and that to categorize some plants as "weeds" is to limit our own enjoyment of creation's abundance.
Also, healthy dollops of laziness.
So, "discipline" was the wrong word. Regardless, being who I am, it is the attitude that I have adopted towards my own yard. It's February, right? So normal people don't mow their yards anymore, right?
In Phoenix it is different. The grass stops growing in the "winter" (a.k.a. the Season When the Sun Is Not Trying to Kill You) but the other stuff keeps going. There are weeds out there with stalks as thick as radishes. If they were radishes, I wouldn't have to buy food for a week. If I liked radishes.
The neighbors, being perhaps inclined towards anti-quietism (they work on their gardens with fear and trembling), are apparently not pleased. Thursday morning I got into my car and noticed that an uprooted weed, dirt and all, had been placed carefully on my windshield.
Would it be paranoid to interpret this as some sort of a message?
Now, I'm no quietist myself. But a little de Caussade is good for everybody. And in the spirit of neighborliness, the first thing that occurred to my mind was REVENGE -- er, evangelization. I spent a good 15 minutes on the way to work thinking of ways I would word the note, if I knew whose door to nail it to. ("Your recent anonymous gesture opened my eyes: until now I had not suspected that such gall could coexist with such cowardice," etc., etc.) After that, I decided that I would let the yard go for another month, just out of spite.
Petty? Yeah, but he was petty first!
Harrumph. I spent today at a coffee shop planning classes, and thanks to a productive sick day yesterday, I've got 'em all done already. The whole week planned out by Saturday -- a first! What on earth will I do tomorrow?
Driving back to the house, I noticed the stark contrast between every other yard for half a mile and mine. I'm not a very communally-spirited guy (I like long walks on the beach. Alone) but I had to admit that it looked pretty shabby.
So I got down on my knees and weeded. I like weeding, really. Dirty-kneed, getting down to the roots of things. Continuing the job tomorrow will feel like leisure after all, which is what Sundays are for. That's easy for a teacher to forget.
I just hope Neighbor Corleone over there doesn't think it's because of him. If I see him, I'm going to ram this milkweed, or whatever it is, right down his throat. And pray that one day he learns not to be such a stuck-up sonofabitch.