Taylor: Weeding as meditation

There’s a sense of power, in organizing a garden. Also a sense of humility, in knowing that nothing I can do will make a seed germinate.

Rather to my surprise, I have become our family’s primary gardener. For many years, I thought gardening was my wife’s job. I did the manly things—pruning unruly branches, digging out rocks, mowing lawns, repairing equipment. She did the planning, the weeding, the dead-heading…

But her chronic leukemia leaves her short of energy. It dawned on me—sometime last summer—that if our garden was going to be maintained, I was going to have to do most of it.

And you know something? I quite enjoy it.

I get a sense of pride, of course, when azaleas explode like fireworks into multi-coloured crescendos of flame. When lavender clumps become bee magnets. When oriental lilies trumpet their fanfare of praise at the skies.

There’s a sense of power, in organizing a garden. Also a sense of humility, in knowing that nothing I can do will make a seed germinate.

But there are pleasures in the more mundane tasks, too.

A gardener friend describes weeding as “a form of meditation.” I used to hate weeding. It seemed so mindless. But I think she’s right—partly because weeding is mindless. You have to empty your mind of the Shriner’s parade of random thoughts that normally romp through, and focus only on the task before you.

The weeds themselves are as hypnotic as a Tibetan mantra. Each seedling requires your undivided attention; if your mind wanders, you’ll miss one. Like beads on a rosary, each weed leads to the next, to the next, to the next…

Hours pass. When I look back along the bed, I can see that I have accomplished something. But my mind has been focused on task, not on destination. The simple act of doing matters more than where I get to.

My mother quoted a British author who said something like, “There’s more honest prayer done on one’s knees in a garden than in all the churches of England.” I wish I could recall the quotation accurately. Perhaps someone can send me the proper wording.

Neither prayer nor weeding works when performed sporadically—only when things get out of control. Both prayer and weeding require regular practice. Ignore either of them for too long, and you don’t know where to start.

It even occurs to me, sometimes, that my past and present vocations have a lot in common.

If writing is like creating a beautiful garden, then weeding is like editing. It took me years to realize that editing doesn’t consist of rewriting someone else’s prose, but of identifying the prize blossoms in a writer’s text and pulling out everything that obscures their beauty.

I can’t say that I always enjoy gardening. Especially when wet branches drip icy drops down my neck. Gardens can also be jealous lovers. They don’t seem to understand that I may also have other commitments.

I’m still learning my spireas from my weigelias. I still have to ask whether this is an allium or an onion, when to plant dahlias, when to hill potatoes.

But I don’t resent the garden any more. We get along much better than we used to. We almost have a relationship.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

One person was extricated from a vehicle that rolled off Highway 97 Feb. 25, 2021, near Clerke Road in Coldstream around 2 p.m. (Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)
UPDATE: Highway 97 cleared near Vernon following rollover that trapped occupant

Single-vehicle incident on highway stretch; vehicle rolled onto its roof

Have you seen these men? Crime Stoppers.
Kelowna RCMP look for men allegedly involved in bar brawl

The alleged assaults took place at a pub on Academy Way

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Larch Place is the first building to be built in the BC Housing, Canadian Mental Health Association housing project at the corner of Third Street SW and Fifth Avenue SW. This view is from the Shuswap Street side where it sits behind the Graystone East building. (File photo)
Opening of doors at new housing development in Salmon Arm welcomed

BC Housing announces opening of 32 rental units, with 35 more expected in summer 2021

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia
And Then There Were None

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

Most Read