While this post isn’t about leadership per se, it does have relevant implications. The natural world, in particular, provides a wealth of learning opportunities.
I don’t know how many of you are gardeners but I have a love-hate relationship with gardening. Being out in the warm weather is delightful. Watching green shoots pop up in early spring offers a thrill of anticipation…. and then there’s the inevitable disappointment.
In June, my garden looked exquisite. The Siberian irises glowed a heavenly shade of purple-blue. The catmint formed a cloud of violet punctuated by a creamsicle iris. The dwarf maple sparkled deep red in the sunlight. My flowerpots were fresh, multicolored and textured. I’d really outdone myself this year.
Then came July and August. We live on a 6-acre farm with garden beds at various locations around our house and barn. No irrigation except the rain. The dry hot sunny weather has wreaked havoc on our lawn—it actually crunches as you walk across it—and the flowers droop in the midday sun. By the end of July, I was dragging a 100-foot hose around the yard everyday to give the plants a much needed drink.
Not only is it terribly dry, but this year we have been plagued by a large quantity and variety of garden-loving pests. In early July, I discovered that something had sheared off ten cosmos plants just as they were about to bloom, They’d actually left the flowers and foliage neatly placed in front of each plant (for another meal or two?)
That same week, the 3-foot tall coreopsis I’d bought to replace my garden phlox became bare stalks overnight. I’d planted it just the day before! Hope springs eternal, so I invested in another replacement, only to catch a vole calmly eating the remains of that plant in broad daylight.
I discovered a couple of days later that something was eating the petals of my black eyed susan flowers just as they were opening. Was it the yellow finches that I love to watch darting around the bird feeder? Or beetles? Turns out there are tiny tobacco worms that burrow into the flowers and eat voraciously.
And these are just a handful of garden challenges this summer.
Every gardener has stories like these, and worse. I have special compassion for people who vegetable garden and actually count on eating their harvest...only to have their precious crops mowed down, chewed up or dragged away overnight.
What’s the lesson here? How much to fight, how much to accept? I respect those gardeners who choose the permaculture route. Instead of fighting nature, they make friends with the conditions they encounter. I believe it’s a basic human impulse to try to change our environments. It’s our blessing and our curse.
In my small corner of the world, I’m still trying to figure out whether I want to fight back or settle into loving what is.
Right now, I’m headed off to Tractor Supply to buy a bottle of Repels All! Better late than never, right?