Wednesday, May 23, 2018

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.


It’s hot—thirty-two degrees Celsius hot. I’m standing at my community garden plot, hose in hand, watering and  plucking the odd spring of dill that’s become a persistent weed since the gardener next door let a forest of hers go to seed.

I’m in another world when I’m startled by a voice next to me: “I guess you don’t subscribe to that thing that says we shouldn’t water in the heat of the day.”

He’s a nice enough man, this gardener with a plot three down from mine; a bit too chatty sometimes, but a knowledgeable gardener nonetheless.

“Yeah, I know it’s not the most efficient time of day because of water evaporation.” I feel oddly scolded for the first time in the four years I’ve gardened here.

“I’m not thinking about water evaporation—we’ve got lots of water.”

It looks that way with the river overflowing its banks with spring runoff; but there is that whole water conservation thing we are mindful of. That’s why we have watering restrictions for lawns. My inner dialogue gets bristly.

“Well, this is the time I could get here today. We do the best we can.” Okay, you can go now.

”They say it stresses the plant. I’m going to come back around eight or eight thirty tonight to water.”

You can do that; you live within walking distance and it’s a pleasant evening stroll for you to come and water later when, by the way, it’s not always cooler. (It was still 30C at 7:30 last evening. That what summer is like here.) Still bristly.

Then I start thinking about stressing my plants and become stressed myself. It’s never been an issue before but now it feels like I’m doing something wrong.

The gardener (finally) meanders back to his plot. I finish watering, roll up the hose, pick up the spinach and radishes I harvested for supper, and head out.

”Enjoy your afternoon,” I call out as I pass his plot where he’s pouring water from a watering can around his tomato plants.

While I’m washing the vegetables at home, I’m still thinking about his comment and wondering if it really does stress the plants to water in the heat of the day. I dry the spinach leaves in the salad spinner, thinking I’ll Google it when I’m finished.

Then I spy the book I just picked up from the library.

If I pick up my iPad, it’s likely that I’ll Google this one thing then go on a rabbit trail somewhere else—oh, and while I’m there I might as well check my email and Facebook—and I’ll miss the opportunity to read for a while before supper.

How many times does that happen? In this instant-information age it’s so easy to get caught up in the quest for (sometimes useless) information and miss out on what’s important. I’m trying to be more mindful of that. I decide to skip Google and choose the better way: I pick up my library book and settle in to read.

# # #

For years I read exclusively on my Kindle but I’m coming to appreciate the old way I loved for so many years: the library and physical books. I’ll always love and use my Kindle—it’s the best thing for nighttime reading in bed—but reading a physical book is a different reading experience.

I don’t need instant access to a given book (I can argue with myself on that, but need and want are, of course, not the same—even for a seasoned bibliophile like me.), and there’s something special about picking up a library book I’ve been waiting weeks for. All of the books I read aren’t available at the library but for those that are, it’s an option I’m going back to more often.

# # #

By the way, I took an intentional moment to research whether watering in the heat of the day stresses plants in the garden and I found nothing to corroborate that theory. I found a now-debunked belief that it can cause leaves to scorch and, of course, lots about efficiency and evaporation. Early morning is still best, of course, but as my community garden is driving distance away I’m sticking to watering according to what works with my schedule. No apologies.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.

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