I’ve been thinking about cultivation.
I’ve been gardening. Last fall, I broke up the ground for a veggie patch and sowed it with black gold from my very own compost bin. This spring, I took up the cardboard and dug around, delighted to see worms as a fruit of my labor. Then I salvaged wood from my back porch, cement blocks from a broken down outdoor fire place, spiked spacers from a patio job at my parents’ house, and nails rescued from my late grandfather’s tool bins and fashioned a raised bed. I filled this bed with bags and bags of dirt purchased from the local farm co-op into which I mixed composted chicken poo from a dear friend and neighbor. Then I planted seeds. Every night I went out and planted a few more kinds. Today, the first little shoots poked up. Little beet leaves lifting up their delicate green leaves. In the pouring rain today, I was tempted to go out and offer them shelter. I worked so hard and so have they; to have them washed away would be so sad for us all. I convinced myself that they would survive the downpour because we have worked so hard together, and I built them up on furrows for just that very reason. I have set them up for success.
Cultivation takes time. It takes dedication, love, passion, and a desire to set something up for success. To think – what do I need to give you so that you will succeed?
The dictionary definition of the word is too exacting, too…dictionary-like.
When a day goes by (or more often 3 or 4) where I can’t get my hands dirty, pull up weeds, chop down invaders, make space for the unexpected windfalls (like the small plot of wild columbines that I have been protecting from the lawn mower), my heart sinks, a get restless, my butt goes numb from too much sitting, and I begin to worry about anything and everything. But when I give myself time to cultivate, I am peaceful in my heart.
This garden cultivation is really a metaphor, you see. Have you figured that out yet? It is a metaphor for the artistic work that I do best. It is a metaphor for mentoring artists, for wooing donors, for working with a scene partner, for directing a play. It is all cultivation. Setting things up for success is an act of cultivation. Sometimes things happen in minute increments that you can barely detect–or maybe not at all, like those little beets that were so busy underground while I looked at blank dirt for a week and hoped my cat would stop digging up my careful rows. Sometimes it happen all at once, like the clematis that bloomed early along the back wall of my garage and gifted us with huge purple stars of beauty. One day it was green vine, the next, flowers the size of my head. Sometimes it is a slow steady slog, like the days I spent hoeing, hammering, and hauling dirt. But, without it, my little plot would fail.
I like to cultivate things.