It’s not very often you get to erase a year’s worth of mistakes and start over.
That’s the thought that crossed my mind as I rode the tractor back and forth across the field today in the late autumn light, tilling up the old planting beds and pathways. When I was finished, the field was a blank slate again. Really hardly a trace was left of the long hours of labor, sore knees, achy backs, beads of sweat, and potent sighs that shaped the field throughout this last season, producing the beautiful blooms that make this little flower farm what it is.
In some ways, this erasure also smudges out the successes. Gone is the dahlia bed that was rampant with the most bountiful and stunning harvest to date. Gone is the stand of perfectly punchy-pink coxcomb celosia that made bouquets sing. Gone is the thicket of cosmos that just kept pouring their hearts out with cheerful buds no matter how many we cut each day. Gone are the billowy purple lisianthus that grew taller than any others had before, easily mistaken for hot-house roses.
Yet again I am struck by how much farming has in common with Zen meditation. Create. Observe. Erase. Rediscover. Start again. Create. Observe. Erase. Rediscover. Start again. Always creating. Always erasing. Somewhere along the way, one begins to sense the fundamental nature of existence, how everything is just as it is and nothing more.
Would you be surprised to learn that at one time I was a certifiable control freak? A few years of farming fixed that. And choosing an ephemeral media (flowers) for my art certainly has helped me to adopt an enthusiastic appreciation for living in the moment, drinking in a particular beauty as if I’ll never see it again.
Because in all likelihood, I won’t.