The Professor & Her Garden

Good soil. Good students. And maybe some decent English peas.

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What Do Woodrow Wilson and Rowing Have in Common with Gardens?

As part of my sabbatical, I am reading biographies of presidents as well as other books that intrigue me.  I just finished A. Scott Berg’s biography on Wilson.  And, I’m rounding the corner on The Boys in the Boat:  Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics.  I’ve already written about the Wilson book here.  And the post about The Boys is here.

Gardens make an appearance in both books.  In Wilson, victory gardens pop up all over the country when the US finally joins the allies in WWI.  In Boys, gardens pop up as a way for one of the rowers to earn money as well as to provide a respite from the day-to-day upheaval of living through the Depression.  In both cases, people create lush gardens without having much garden knowledge.  The gardens in both books are about food.  But they are also about creating calm out of havoc, creating a retreat from the dusty world of work, and as a place to work on tasks that yield results.

To me, it makes perfect sense, then, that I have created my little sabbatical garden for My Year Away.  It’s just a tiny piece of land:  4 feet by 10 feet.  But, I’ve planted a variety of veggies that I love in orderly rows.  The little seeds are popping out at different rates.  I can’t always tell what’s a weed and what’s a pea.  I’m starting to see a pattern.  The garden is rewarding me.  I’ve got weeks (and maybe months) to go before cultivation, but I’m already seeing the fruits of my labor.

Every morning I’m at the beach, I pull on my rain boots, hop in the golf cart and race down to the community garden where I can check on my little plot.  If I know something is a weed, out it goes.  I stare at the beautiful rows.  I talk to the seedlings.  If it hasn’t rained, I water.  Then I hop back onto the golf cart and ride home.

And I start another day of my sabbatical.  Reading, writing, crunching data.  It’s not just my garden that’s growing.  I’m growing too.