On tradition

Leek blossoms

When I was young(er), I spent long hours in my post-work world doing things like home renovation. Having neither spouse nor child, these hours, spent sometimes with a friend or significant other, were usually fun but exhausting: it was usually around 11 that we (or I) would call it quits and order a pizza and open the first beer. I thought about my past life tonight when I finally pulled myself out of the garden at 10:00, sweaty and mud-caked, calling to Tom to order a pizza and let’s open a beer.

The child was away this evening, spending one of her first nights ever away from us, safely being sugared up by her Nana (my mother). Such time I had available to me! I got home from work, changed into the garden gear, and headed out: hours ahead of me, nothing but the projects at hand, no other draws on either my attention or time. This hearkens back to a simpler life, I think.

I thought about the difference between parenting and gardening when I was out doing my evening battle with the weeds. I would say, and maybe it’s just me, that gardening connects me more with the great “out there” of tradition, of history, than any other activity I do. Considering that archaeological evidence states that we have been gardening for a mere 11,000 years or so, and we’ve certainly been parenting much longer than that, it’s quite odd that I would feel the way I do. Maybe it’s a question of immersion: I am not a gardener 24/7, but arguably motherhood is full-time. Maybe it’s the matter of precedents: I have no known farming ancestors. Maybe it’s my being American that kind of messes things up. In this country we have psychologically done away with the yoke of tradition in many respects. I could therefore say that gardening, or parenting, is some new river which I am fording alone, the first to do so. But is this the case? Hardly!

Granted, even home renovation and my other great love and time-suck, cooking, can claim to be traditions long pursued by humankind. I do feel a connection with cooking, and yes, even with getting out a hammer and a saw, with something that’s gone before, that great Tradition (sing to yourself now, Tevye: Tradition!!) to which I am just another link in the chain. I don’t, say, feel so nostalgic about laundry. But there is this draw, very primal, about putting a small seed into the ground that is so…very…OLD to me. And enjoyable, too.

Holy Cats, girl, you say. Just go open that beer already! Beer will surely chase these thoughts from my head.

4 responses to “On tradition

  1. I think of you as an earth mother.

  2. I think you’re right, that even when we don’t have a family tradition of something, we’re not really forging new paths. And I agree about summer nights in the garden – last night we were outside until almost 9 (not quite your 10, but I was hungry!) and ended up going out for enchiladas instead of trying to cook. But dang that Dos Equis tasted good!

  3. There is something about dropping seeds into earth, ripping weeds back or just plain sitting in the middle of it all trying to work out how to eradicate the potato bugs once and for all. Regardless of what it is or how it’s done, this thing called planting, gardening, farm and food husbandry, is incredibly primal and somehow, the words scrubbed clean (as in me, by the dirt) come to mind.

  4. CC: Hah! But I have never worn tiedye or patchouli!

    Laura, dang, I rue the day I moved away from a place that serves enchiladas and Dos Equis. And Thai, and Vietnamese, and sushi…oh wait! Yeah, I purposefully moved away from that. But yes it is nice to work late, isn’t it?

    Alecto, I put a pair of chairs in the veg garden last year thinking I would use them to sit back and just be a part of it all. Well, all the chairs do is catch gardening crap, but on the rare occasion I do sit in one, especially with Tom or a friend, it’s pretty magical. Just to sit back and feel taken over by all the growth (weed or no). Oh and it helps if I have a glass of wine in my hand too. But yes it’s something beyond us, even if it is supposedly in our control.

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