Mindful Weeding

One of the things I value most is living in harmony with nature.  My garden is one of those places where I get to interface with a wide variety of creatures on the planet.  When I work in the garden I am mindful of what I am doing and why I am doing it.  This is the same process of awareness that I use when I am doing all other activities, but the content of “why” varies slightly.

Two months ago I harvested huge heads of cauliflower.  Once the flowering head of this vegetable has been picked, the plant is fairly well past its prime.  Many people would then pull the whole plant and send it to the compost.  I, instead, considered the option of non-action.  This specimen had very large leaves which could serve additional purposes.  In the ground, still living, those leaves served as “shade” for the young alder tree sapling that was next to it.  In addition, the leaves were a future source of food for the pet rabbits I live with.  It wasn’t until later that I realized the large leaves also served as a bird bath.  They accumulated water from the sprinklers and held it within the shallow bowl the leaves formed naturally.Cauliflower Bird Bath

The “why” for pulling the plant could be mindlessness or it reflect a value for esthetics.  I also want things to look ordered and nice, but I am conscious of my objective to make the garden at TESLI be in harmony with the land around.  I find that many of the “weeds” I leave unpulled look somewhat unsightly, but the birds love the seeds and I am finding that I am becoming quite popular with my flying friends.  In a “complex” living style, one might put up bird feeders and drive to the store to replenish the seeds.  In a simple living style, one only has to leave weeds around and sit back and enjoy finches, sparrows and even love birds feast.

When I garden, I reflect on what is right action – sometimes I feel the drive to know what is the “best” way to act.  This idea is addressed in a book I just finished reading.  In A New Earth Eckhart Tolle writes on page 194:

“When we go into a forest that has not been interfered with by man, our thinking mind will see only disorder and chaos all around us.  It won’t even be able to differentiate between life (good) and death (bad) anymore since everywhere new life grows out of rotting and decaying matter.  Only if we are still enough inside and the noise of thinking subsides can we become aware that there is a hidden harmony here… The mind is more comfortable in a landscaped park because it has been planned through thought; it has not grown organically.”

I was intrigued by his statement.  Many people are actually refreshed by the walk through a forest, despite all its disorder.  Yet, those same people would not tolerate allowing plant debris to naturally decay around their houses.  I wonder, who is making those decisions?

Reflection:  Am I choosing to do things that are in alignment with my values?  Am I thoughtful about the full ramifications of my actions?