I've been reading The Roots of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield, and it's made me realize that what I'm really always writing about is the psychology of gardeners. No matter the topic - the newest plant or rejuvenating soil, at the heart of the story lies our passion for gardening, why we spend our time the way we do.
I can't imagine any group of people more diverse, more feisty and independent than gardeners, yet there's such commonality - our abiding love and fascination with nature, our curiousity, resilience, and capacity, even thirst, for hard work. How we find our deepest satisfaction in coaxing plants from the earth, in nurturing their growth. On some level we gardeners are nothing but sensualists, reveling in the smells, textures, tastes, colors of what we grow; on another we're the most enduring of pragmatists.
To balance out the intensity of Kornfield's book, and as antidote to the bleakness of winter, I've been re-reading "French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France" by Richard Goodman. I was struck by his concise and beautiful explanation of why he gardens; "I am always searching for ways to make myself simpler. Gardening does that better than anything I know. It reduces me to who I am. It casts off the superficial and the artificial. It leaves me with the essential, the economical, the no-frills me." Perhaps that clarity is what we most hope for on a good day in the garden.