I’m a voracious reader and prolific writer, but I’m also the most optimistic gardener you’ll ever find. When my husband and I married 15 years ago, we soon found out that we needed to find other things in common than just … well … bedroom compatibility (although that still holds its own appeal).
He’s an engineer, I’m a writer. Weekday life pulled us in different directions, so we put our heads together to figure out a couple of good matches that would get us off the couch, working together, and would produce something to show for it. We’re both terrific chefs now, can ride our bikes with our son for endless miles, and our garden is the toast of the town.
Really, had I figured out at 20 that I could remember the Latin name for every plant I’ve ever touched, the proper way to balance the pH in our southern red clay soil so that I could tinker with the chromophores in hydrangea to make the blooms either pink or blue, the correct time of year to prune my myrtles or camellias or lorapetulum, or the benefits of composting kitchen waste to produce the most excellent humus in the south … my life would be distinctly different.
But as much as I love to cultivate our garden, I love to cultivate my mind and my imagination more. I’m always saddened by people who’ll tell you, “I’m a banker,” or “I’m a computer programmer.” Because my computer programmer husband is that, plus an enviable chef, master gardener, playful father, active outdoorsman, and generous lover. To name a few.
Personally, I love art, so I enrolled in the competitive docent program at the North Carolina Museum of Art and was accepted. I did that for five years, and learned so much about the history of art … but I also learned how civilization influenced and was influenced by different art forms and topics. Art is the litmus and the record of our current times. Who knew art history would help put into perspective politics and law, and make it easier to help my son with social studies.
When I wanted to learn more about why our town seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds (and seemingly without direction), I contacted the mayor and he appointed me to the Town’s Appearance Commission. It was interesting to see how many requests came and went, and to participate with the town council as the decisions were made. And when our nation was faced with escalating gas prices in the fall of 2007, my family challenged itself to park our cars on the weekend and travel throughout town by bicycle. Not only did we get in great shape, but we saved tons of money on gasoline, reduced our carbon footprint, found a great activity that let us focus on fun conversations, and allowed us to … well … stop and smell the roses.
It’s easy to cultivate your garden. You can learn that from books and from your local garden center or through a class at your local university. Fertilize. Water. Prune. Mulch. Cultivating your imagination takes a little more effort, a willingness to try new things, a fondness for the unexpected, and a great sense of humor. It’s something you carry with you forever, too.
As a writer, cultivating my imagination has given me endless possibilities for stories, with characters possessing endless opportunities and possibilities to mine. So the next time somebody asks you what you do or what you are, blow their minds. Tell them … everything. You may surprise yourself—because there’s more to you than meets the eye.
- What interesting things have you done to learn more about the world around you?
- Got any fun and spicy tips to cultivate your marriage? Your partnership? Yourself?
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