Monday, June 18, 2012

Encourage Profusion

Back in the late eighties, legendary director Mark Rydell optioned my first screenplay, The Man In The Moon, and flew me out to L.A. to get acquainted.  We talked about the story, my family, my life.
     At one point, he leaned forward and said, “If you couldn’t ever write again, what sort of work would you do?’
     Without a moment’s hesitation, I answered, “I’d be a gardener.”
     He sat back, frowning slightly. 
     “No,” he said, “I mean really.”
     And I said, “Really.”
     When he asked me why, I told him that writing and gardening (and painting and dancing and all the other arts) are basically the same thing.  In every case the artist is creating beauty – which I believe is something we are all sent here to do.
     That conversation took place over twenty years ago.  At the time, I didn’t have a garden.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t have a home.  But I had HAD a garden before, and I remembered very well how much I’d loved it.
     Still, that answer I gave him was downright pitiful.  I mean, it was true enough, but it was a far cry from the whole truth.  All that talk about beauty and art – it sounded good, but I’ve never been a master gardener, and I don’t know that my garden (yes, I have one now) is beautiful to anyone but me. 
The thing is -- I love to garden because of the way I feel when I’m out there.
     “Out there”, the air is sweeter.  It’s where I feel most alive. I’m using muscles that don’t get used when I’m sitting at the computer.  I’m getting dirty, I’m sweating. I’m climbing over the fence ten times a day.  (I have a gate, but to use it, I’d have to go the long way around, plus I’d have to go through two gates, not just one, and one of those gates is wired shut, so I’d have to undo the wire, then do it back again – you get the idea.)    
I love to get my hands in the dirt.  I love helping plants flourish.  I love the absolute magic of watching life unfold and knowing I’m helping it along. 
Over the years, I’ve become a cross between Calla Moses and Ruth Stout.  Feed the soil until it’s so rich there’s no need to dig.  (All I have to do is scoop out a little dirt with my hand and stick a plant in the ground and pull the soil back in place around it.)  Make life easy for the earthworms.  Throw mulch on top of weeds instead of pulling them. Plant flowers and herbs here and there to discourage insect pests.  Encourage profusion.    
That’s what I did this weekend.  I encouraged profusion.  And climbed over the fence a lot.
And felt 100% alive.


  1. I'm not a gardener, but I can truly relate to feeling 100% alive when you're outside, getting your hands dirty, getting immersed in nature. As much as I love writing, I've never believed that a life can be completely fulfilled with only one source of nourishment. Just this week I went river tubing on the San Marcos river with my husband (it was a Tuesday, and there were barely any people there) and it was the perfect way to slow life down and just take in the outdoors.

    1. Natalia, so good to hear from you -- and I love that you understand this need to feed our souls with the great outdoors! Tubing on the San Marcos sounds wonderful. Since I'm nowhere near a roaring stream, I'll just settle for going barefoot for now. Indoors and out! All my best --

  2. Since gardening and writing are both processes "in work", that end with a "outcome", (Flowers, vegetables, article, book...) I'm not surprised that you love them both. Me too. Add cooking to the mix and you've got me.

    1. Cooking is now added! What could make us happier than nourishing people we love? And ourselves, of course! (Feel free to send me recipes!)

  3. Jenny... I hope you are checking the regularly! The Man in The Moon is one of my favorite movies of all time. I am currently doing a paper about it and you for my "Introduction To Film" class. Would you be willing to share with me what inspired this screen play? :)


    PS - I love gardening too! Plant one every year!