Tending the Garden

Aridification is what scientists are calling it now. Not drought. Drought suggests a temporary condition: “We’re in drought again this year, but maybe next year will be rainier.” This is a fundamental change. We are in another climate altogether in the West. Years ago I used the customary description of California’s climate as Mediterranean, mild and with enough rain to sustain a fairly verdant landscape. The Guide said then, “No, it’s not that moderate any more.” Seems she was a jump ahead of the scientists.

So what does this mean for the garden? Thanks to the generosity of Sangha, our thousands of gallons of water stored in the tanks when it did rain last winter are seeing us through so far. Multiple beds are planted with tomatoes, squashes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, melons and beans, and those thirsty plants are getting regular, life-saving water from the monks every evening. Before the tanks, our summer garden was a fraction of its current size.

And yet, we are still in something of a new world. It is hot, very hot, and hot for weeks at a time. Hotter, and hotter for longer than, say, five or six years ago. How are the plants doing? Their foliage looks abundant. So far though, they are not producing their fruits as they would have years ago. Do they, like we, hunker down and reduce activity through the steamy days? Or will the well-composted and mulched beds, the shade cloths and the water allow them to operate as usual? We will find out. They will tell us.

We are invited and trained in Practice to treat every moment as new, every situation as an experiment – to live in “I don’t know.” It is a gift of this current time that in terms of climate we don’t even need to live “as if” we don’t know; truly, we don’t. The plants and we are in a discovery process. Whatever else we find out, it is once again clear that we are all in this together.