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Poor Will's Almanack: July 8 - 14, 2014

Liz West
Flickr Creative Commons

My interest in gardening began with a few lettuce seeds and then progressed to a minor manifestation of voyeuristic back-to-the-landism. And now it has taken on a life of its own.

And of course, nothing is as simple as it seems.

What starts out as a pleasant journey into food or flowers can quickly become complicated by the addition of just a small amount of neurosis and self-doubt.

The process of gardening, like all processes in which new life comes to be, is something elemental, something primal. And it has to do not only with food and self-sufficiency, with space and color and order and purpose, but also with disease and with the dangers of cold and heat, drought and flooding.

Existentially, the garden is a jungle of options. Here lies the angst that the 20th century philosopher Jean Paul Sartre talked about, the anguish in face of the whole universe to be made by our word made into the flesh of tomatoes and zinnias, made by our word without appeal, without a model, without a guide.

And what if we fail? What if the vision is imperfect? What if we are not up to the task? What if we do not have enough time? What if everything eventually falls apart and becomes overgrown and all the precious things get swallowed up by rank interlopers? What if? What if?

You see what I mean….

There is something about the tangled lushness of July that can overrun my mind like kudzu, something that pushes me until I am caught in a synaptic snarl, and I founder in the sticky vines of cerebral summer.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of middle summer. In the meantime, don’t think about all this too much. You’ll be better off.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.