Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Gardener is IN

Knee-deep in Kale, Cabbage, Parsley and Pansies, my co-worker and I were approached today by a bundled-up utility worker on his lunch break. Over our damp afternoon chatter, he struck up a blazing conversation which, in the span of 2 minutes, chain-reacted from "So is this your house?" to "How long it take you to cut these bushes like this?" to "So you guys are voting, right?"; into the real fissile stuff: a meltdown of hopeful commiserations and genuinely thought-provoking comments on work, war, taxes, abortion, problems with the neoconservative agenda, and the disappearance of the middle class. Through his whole lunch break he remained, casually pacing on the other side of a low boxwood hedge, punctuating occasional silences with unassuming ruminations on decidedly assuming topics.
I'd consider the whole progression pleasantly odd were it not for the fact that these types of conversations and their instigators find me regularly, but only while I am visibly plying my trade. When I was working in the nursery, customers would volunteer to me startlingly personal and emotional tidbits, almost mid sentence as I offered inane plant-related banter: "Yes, the blue of this pine makes it a striking accent to use in..."
"...It's just weird, y'know? You start getting older and you look around one day and all of a sudden half your friends have cancer..."
"Just weird..."
I don't know what it is about gardeners and plant people that broadcasts an open ear/shoulder- to- cry- on- vibe. Through encounters like this I end up getting frayed glimpses of the loneliness, disappointment and anger which, when channeled into the more brackish sloughs of societal expression, lead to things like road-rage, substance/domestic abuse, and depression. We're practically bludgeoned with advice to "let it out" and "talk about it" but the truth is most people have no one with whom they feel safe enough and from whom they feel removed enough to talk to at all. To these people I offer the following advice: go to a nursery, walk around the block, go someplace where there are folks with cheerful, dirty hands talking about plants and join in. It doesn't matter whether or not you know anything about plants; you'll instinctively steer the conversation where it needs to go to get something off your chest, which, though the gardeners may be caught off guard, is fundamentally better than steering your car into the a**hole who just cut you off.

1 comment:

  1. Just stopped by to say that I had put up your blog after you filled out the blog roll request form.

    Nice blog you have here. It is refreshing so see a blog by a gardeners about words and not pictures.

    Keep up the good work.