A few days ago I was babysitting for a good friend of mine and her daughter wanted to come over and help me plant part of my garden. I thought this was a great idea, because not only could I begin passing on what I know about gardening and plants, but I could also get some help. Anyone who gardens will tell you that it is not an easy task, it is a labor of love. My back injuries give me even more of a challenge, which in turn is making the gardening that much more rewarding, since I was told I might not ever get to garden again, but I will always take help when it is offered. My friend’s daughter was so enthusiastic about everything we were doing and was as absorbent as a sponge with everything I was telling her. After 2 and a-half hours of planting and playing in the mud we had over half the garden planted! It was fantastic:) With the sun setting, we figured it was a good time to stop, but I loved seeing the look of having accomplished something worthwhile and rewarding on the little girls face. Then I babysat again for my friend, and her daughter didn’t want to play video games, watch TV, or surf the internet; she wanted to come over to my house again and plant more of the garden. Unfortunately by this time I had the rest of the main garden planted, but I still needed some help with herb pots and container planting, so we tackled that. I even sent a pot back with her full of seeds to take care of at home and watch the miracle of growth.
It really made my heart soar to see someone so happy by doing something so simple, as well as getting to impart the knowledge I know to her. I learned just about everything I know about gardening from my neighbor, Avis, when I was about 10 years old. The other place was taking a course in high school called plant science. During my 11th and 12th grades of high school I had the grades and the maturity to be a part of a program called Post-Secondary Education Option (PSEO). This is a program that as a high school student you can take classes at the local community college instead of at the high school, for free, and you begin earning college credit. I had to split my schedule, though, for the first year, since I was still taking my Latin class at the high school. Due to scheduling conflicts I couldn’t take some of the upper level science courses, and I already had biology honors and chemistry under my belt, so it wasn’t a big deal, and I ended up taking plant science. Plant science was considered the slacker class for the kids who were not “smart enough” to take an upper level class. Looking back, I learned more practical knowledge from that class that I still use today than from just about any other class I took in high school. It may have been considered a slacker class, but to me it was fascinating and I loved it. Why can’t we learn more in high school than algebra and chemistry? Those subjects the majority of us will never use after we take our ACTS and SATS. Most of us come out of high school knowing a foreign language, trigonometry, and who won the battle of 1812; but so many young adults go into the world without knowing anything about basic cooking, car maintenance, balancing a check book, gardening, house cleaning, entering into a lease, signing for a student loan and how it will be paid back, or caring for a pet. We know the theory and the science behind it all, but our practical knowledge is sorely lacking.
Education in all forms I believe is invaluable. Whether you are learning something from a book (like I am doing now with gardening), or watching a documentary, traveling, taking a community education class, or learning on the job or from a friend; whatever you learn is now a part of your knowledge base. Some of the smartest people I know are not necessarily PHD holders, NASA Scientists, or Executives of a Corporation (although some are, just not due to their status); they are the people who have gone through life with a desire to learn all they can, embracing their desire to learn and becoming a sponge for all knowledge that they are privy to. They are also the people who tend to give back the most to others and to pay their knowledge forward. When I look at Peace Corps Volunteers the majority of us do not come from a world of monetary wealth, we are the ones that come from the desire to learn and to share what knowledge we have with others.
I am embracing my gardening project as an opportunity to learn even more about what I am growing and how I am growing it, as well as knowing more about what I am eating. I want to be connected to the earth, to the food that goes in my mouth, to feel a part of the ongoing story of our planet and to be involved in a positive way that makes a difference no matter how small that can be. Till next time, Love Tammy