How Does Your Garden Grow?

Like many of you, my academic, career and personal lives take place online . Last weekend, I took a small hiatus from all things internet-based. The buzzing of the phone, inbox notifications, Facebook messages, and all other socially-engaged media, though not unlike an swarm of bees busily working, seems to feel out of place in the summer months. It is easy to forget the demands of online presence when enjoying the sunshine, dipping into the cool ocean, and relaxing with a good read.

While on this mini holiday, I visited family in Kamloops and Salmon Arm. Not having been home for a few years, I looked forward to some down-time, good food and taking my mind off the virtual world.

My late grandmother lived in Salmon Arm during the last couple decades of her life, on a piece of land named Moon Daisy Hill. It was (and still is) a rough, natural patch of land with wild flowers, grasses, ferns, fir and pine trees. It also boasts a gnarly, centenary apple orchard that produces Honest John apples, excellent for pies; several rusted out automobiles once belonging to an uncle, but now home to some wasps or bees; farming equipment from multiple decades in various states of working order; a creek with a small cabin nearby; a resident bear (though over 3 decades it may no longer be the same bear); a few once-functional bee hives now toppling over, paint chipping and a little eerie sitting under the shade of the trees; and of course various pastures of sunflowers, vegetables, and raspberry bushes.

I have fond memories of this place.

There is a romanticism that embeds itself in our childhood places. It has been a long time, and many memories now exist in the form of photographs and strange recollections of moments that might not have been real. Sitting on Moon Daisy Hill this past weekend reminded me a much simpler, easier time that – even now – is full of wonder. The landscape, while mostly the same, has changed subtly. The land erodes, grasses yellow, the creek lessens, trees grow, trucks rust and those bees at least have moved on to greener pastures. Yet what remains are the possibilities for revisiting the simple moments, the easy pleasures, and those fantastic wiener roasts on Moon Daisy Hill.

In contrast to the wild nature of this place, I next visited my parents in Kamloops. The gardens are in bloom despite the lack of rain and the grass is perfectly manicured. A soothing water fountain trickles water from a frog’s mouth. There are rules about where to put the patio furniture, how often to water the flowers, the pattern in which to cut the grass, and which animals are welcome in the garden. Though this may seem to paint a strict and over-affected space, the garden is still a refuge that calls for relaxation, appreciation, and no shoes. Regardless of the efforts made to contain and manage a garden space, the grasses too will yellow, the water runs lower, trees may grow or gnarl, and bees need to be invited to visit the bright blossoms.

I would like to encourage each of you to visit a garden, whether it be your own, a friend’s, community spaces, or a public garden. Stop listening to the buzz of your devices, and start hearing the amazing sounds of nature.