A garden is a great place to prepare for the Great Turning. You can tell almost immediately how well it is being tended. In a tended garden, there is a feeling of peace, busy peace, perhaps, with bees and hummingbirds, monarchs and swallowtails, but also a calm contentedness that comes when the weeds are not competing for water and light, when the sun blesses tomatoes all day, and shade cools the brassicas by mid afternoon.
I love letting things go to seed and reseed the next year, deciding for themselves who is going to make it and who isn’t. Our garden is the kind of garden that my husband said his German grandmother didn’t keep: tangled, exuberantly wild, yet yielding many onions, leeks, evening primroses and artichokes—and oh yes, valerian, which behaves as an invasive!
But I have come to value the conversation that happens when you really engage. Why is the zucchini vine yellowing within 10 inches of the root, and the melon vine’s leaves fold like wallets? When I have removed the (volunteer) nematode marigolds from shading the tomato plant and limited their offspring to a couple of dozen, the basil, tomatoes, and peppers grow faster and produce more. When I spend several minutes each morning checking moisture levels and hand watering the plants the irrigation doesn’t reach, gratitude comes— within myself, for sure, for I love seeing them thriving, but I also think from the plants as well.
As I water, I lift my eyes to the meadow beyond the garden fence, the meadow whose mystery includes picnic grounds for early white settlers and intimations of sacred rituals for centuries before that. This dreamy state of consciousness is a portal of the Great Turning, easy to enter in summer breezes, too easy to not have time for, and yet, critical to cultivate… and there are several things you can do to assist it:
1. Spend more time listening to the whisper of pine or the rustling of summer toughened oak leaves, or the chatter of cottonwood.
2. Water at least some of your garden by hand, waiting while the hummingbird, hovering at your hose-held hand, fights off the house finch for a drink.
3. Eat at least one thing a day that comes from the earth outside your kitchen door. (That is part of the dialogue, too!)
4. Meet an impossible animal and get to know it on its own terms.
5. Nap at least once a day and listen for any messengers who might contact you in that daytime twilight. They will fill you in on what to do next in this Turning.