Hello Ryiad, Rabat, Barbastro, Jerusalem, Teheran, Mega, Rouen, Lisbon and Pawpaw! It is rainy and cool in little Macondo by the Potomac. Roses, irises, oriental poppies, spirea and sweet rocket are blooming, asparagus is ready to harvest and it is time to plant more strawberries. I am about to have a slice of freshly baked corn cheese bread and a cup of espresso. How about you? I am assuming that you also have breakfast, wherever you live and I hope that you have plenty to feed yourself and your family, plus a few extra pennies to blow on books, a box of chocolate, flowers, a bottle of good wine, music, movies, and whatever you like and your religious beliefs permit. Out there, in the big world of realpolitik, things are not so pretty. People are killing each other in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Darfur, and Sri Lanka, among other places.
Last year a good friend gave me a pair of red leather gardening gloves that are really too beautiful to use while grubbing in the dirt. Generous as the gesture was, I am not the sort of gardener who wears gloves. I like to feel the texture and temperature of the soil. I like to sink my fingers into a nice mix of sand, bone meal and humus when I prepare a spot for recalcitrant poppies and lavendar. Though they might keep my hands and nails from being brutalised, gloves get in the way. I feel like a wuss when I wear them.
Early in the season, a hard day of sewing the abominable trees of heaven that find their way into my Nanking cherries and lilacs, makes my hands look like they belong to a wussy urban gardener. Today, after clearing beds for snow peas and sunchokes, I earned broken nails, abrasions and blisters. No matter. During my thirty some years of gardening and seven years as a metalsmith, I learnt that a certain amount of discomfort comes with the territory. Sure, there are times when I would like to be Vita Sackville-West, mistress of a bevy of hired hands in charge of grunt work. Quite often, at the jeweler’s bench, I wish I were Faberge or Spratling and leave the uncomfortable tasks for minions. Somehow, I doubt that I would enjoy either gardening or silversmithing as much, I have no castle–I garden in a half acre lot. My silversmithing clients are every bit as discerning as Russianj aristocrats, but they have a smaller budget. I think that I am doing what I have always been meant to do–gardening and making jewelry my own way, gloves off, all senses on the job.