You’ve pulled all the weeds from the flowerbed and pulled a back muscle in the process. Your next move should be something a little less strenuous--like pulling a book from the shelf. But what’s a gardener to read? Here are a few suggestions from the GardenVoice library.
Let’s start with the classic work by Henry Thoreau. “Walden” is one man’s journal on his journey to…..”simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust…”. Thoreau lived in a small cabin, raised beans, caught fish from the pond, and chronicled his thoughts and observations about life, nature, and the things we need or don’t need in order to maintain a meaningful existence. His thoughts on civil disobedience and independent thinking assured us that we don’t have to keep pace with our companions and that it is not only okay but often desirable and necessary to step to the music of a different drummer.
Thoreau’s observations of the natural world in the woods around him and his insistence on living life in a way that was true to his own nature should be of interest to gardeners, farmers, and all who marvel at the awe of the living, breathing, organic planet we find ourselves to be a part of.
None of this is to say that Thoreau was anti-social or without a desire for human interaction. He would often go into town in the evenings to visit and converse with others, and he did in fact only live at his cabin in the woods for a little more than two years.
Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac” has great observations on the importance of the natural world and on the necessity of conservation of natural resources.
Skip ahead a few decades and we have Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” in which the author and researcher has concluded that not only do we need to be aware of conserving and protecting the resources of the natural world, but that our own continuing existence on this planet depends on our ability to recognize the harm we are causing to it and to instill a determination into humanity to stop polluting and destroying our environment.
Another great book to read is Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man And The Sea.” This was the last great work created by Hemingway, written when he was in his 50’s. By this time he had already received much fame and recognition and had mellowed somewhat from his earlier macho days of the great safari hunter who needed to kill animals or to watch animals being killed as in the Spanish bullfights.
By way of his main character, the old man Santiago, the author shows much respect for the great fish that the old man catches. Also, his recognition of and admiration for the lesser elements of the ecosystem, including the other smaller fish and sea creatures and even the small birds that would alight on the old man’s boat, show an amazing awareness of the importance of the parts that compose the whole in the living system. Was Hemingway a keen observer of nature and a great environmentalist? I think so.
And now, how about a little light reading just for fun!? Please read some of Mark Twain’s short stories. We know he’s famous for his social commentaries by way of the HuckFinn/Tom Sawyer adventures, but the humor in his short stories is extremely entertaining—try “Political Economy” or “Mrs. McWilliams And The Lightning”, for example.
The short stories of O. Henry (master of the surprise ending) are peopled with well-defined, lovable, laughable characters that keep you guessing what will happen right up until the last sentence.
And, speaking of the last sentence—a truly inspiring and well-written short story is one called “Quality” by John Galsworthy.