Beneath the Golden Bough

What’s Love Got to do With It?

Tina Turner’s song was a big hit when I was in college studying art. I liked to substitute the word “art” for “love” and sing it to my teachers who tried to help students learn to make a marketable product that would appeal to consumers. Love and art are very similar; both are very easily destroyed. After two years I chose to finish the art major because I cared about art, but also to add a psychology major because I never wanted my art to be a product. Psychology classes were easy and seemed like they would lead to a good day job. The day job still consumes vast amounts of time and barely pays the bills. Oh the follies of youth.

Gardening and growing crops was never remotely on my radar. The psychologists that attracted me were the progeny of Carl Jung. I gravitated away from the practical towards the mythical, even as I told myself I was working on having a normal career. Psychology seemed to be a field in which one could gain employment, but on a deeper level a field pervaded by theories of transformation. So maybe gardening was on my radar, though I didn’t know it then. I could never follow a path with no heart in it, even when I told myself I was doing so. It took about twenty years for my path to lead to the garden, with many strange detours along the way. It was a winding path.

In life, you end up where you begin. Love and art (and gardening if it is your calling) bring you full circle. Nature teaches this. Biology teaches this. If you follow what you love, move towards what brings you bliss like plants moving towards the sunlight, you will end up right where you need to be. Ignore the friends who tell you to move to New York because you’re so “talented.” Ignore the men who tell you they love you so much they want you to have all twelve of their babies. Ignore your mom or dad or great aunt Gertrude telling you what a brilliant _insert profession here_ you could be. Plant some seeds, if seeds are what you love, and sit back and watch them grow. What could be more noble than this?

I have spent up to a full year or maybe a little bit more than a year finishing a single drawing because I never saw the point in rushing things. Since my art was for me, I didn’t have any deadlines. Drawing is my medium, but the broad canvas of a piece of land is so much better. Being the god of a few pencil marks is nothing compared to being a steward of your own little piece of the earth. I am so fortunate to be only one member of the community, happy to lay down the compost and mulch and see what all my co-creators will produce. Once the stage is set and the ground rules are laid, the individual actors will take off and create true theater. The origins of drama are in the land, and the cycles of comedy and tragedy in Greek drama began as fertility plays mimicking the cycles of death and rebirth (and sacrifice) witnessed by any person harvesting a few crops. People used to know where their food came from. James Frazier says that’s what made them create religion.

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1 thought on “Beneath the Golden Bough”

  1. Lovely! Thanks for sharing. I’m a gardener with a background in theater. This really speaks to me.

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