(detail) : photo by Marnie Crawford Samuelson, in The wild braid
by Stanley Kunitz
my life, the garden has been a great teacher in everything I
cherish. [...] The
garden was a world that depended on care and nourishment. And it was
an interplay of forces; as much as I responded to the garden, the
garden, in turn, responded to my touch, my presence.
think of gardening as an extension of oneís own being, something
as deeply personal and intimate as writing a poem. The difference is
that the garden is alive and is created to endure just the way a
human being comes into the world and lives, enjoys, and is mortal.
The lifespan of a flowering plant can be so short, so abbreviated by
the changing of the seasons, it seems to be a compressed parable of
the human experience.
of the fascination of gardening is that it is, on one hand, a
practical exercise of the human body and, on the other, a direct
participation in the ritual of birth and life and death.
compost pile is a site of transformation, taking what has been cast
off and returning it to the garden. Itís not just garbage, after
distillation of any philosophy of composting has some connection
with the positive concept of waste and death. The contribution that
mortality makes to civilization is the equivalent of what composting
contributes to a garden.
are all candidates for composting. So we cannot approach the compost
heap without a feeling of connection.
Kunitz, with Genine Lentine: The wild braid, A poet reflections
on a century in the garden, Norton & Co., New York, 2005.