Friday, May 20, 2011

Make an Artist Date in Your Garden

An Artist Date

An artist date is a concept that originated in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self. The "date" is a chance to explore something that interests you. Artist's dates along with writing morning pages spark your creativity. I won't go into moring pages in this post, but if you want to know more check both concepts out here.

My first artist date was a local auction. I'd always wanted to go to an auction, and I was just going to observe, but I got caught up in the bidding (it was low end starting bigs). I ended up with this vintage green pitcher from the 1930s that glows under black lights and an antique apple peeler.

I don't need these things but it wasn't really like buying something new and I'm confident that I can one day pass them on to someone else that will enjoy them.

How did going to auction affect my creativity?

The next morning while walking the dogs. I took lots of pictures of things people discarded--a toothbrush on the sidewalk, hand sanitizer covered with dirt in the gutter, and apple cores discovered by my Cooking Assistant.

I wasn't even thinking about the connection between the pictures and the auction at the time. I came across this random sofa in a front yard. I might have thought was so ghetto before but suddenly it became a photo opportunity.

My Cooking Assistant thought the sofa in the front yard was awesome.

In the Garden

I love to dream about plucking English peas, eating juicy tomatoes from the vine and enjoying the arugula in salads, and sure a garden is all that, but there's a lot of work hidden in the details that gardeners don't always talk aobut. That's what I think about when I haven't visited my garden for awhile and I know the weeds have been slowly taking over. I admit the work can intimidate me, so I decided to make an artist date in the garden. I hoped it would help me view the garden in a new way. And who knows? Maybe a spark of creativity would be ignited. That was the plan anyway.

I wanted to have fun, so I set the time limit to two hours and chose starts to plant in containers. I had lettuce, kale, garlic, parsley, spearmint and arugula and two tomato plants that came from Rent's Due Ranch and River Farm.

I planted this tiny kale. It hasn't grown much yet because the weather turned cold and one drawback to container gardening is the soil is more vulnerable to shifting temperature. But on the plus side I find less insects attack the greens and you can line the tops of pots with copper strips to stop slugs.

When you think about it, writing is a lot like gardening. Seeds of a story are planted and with the right care they take shape and grow and soon take on a shape of their own. I like to think if our thoughts all resembled vegetables, emerging stories would look like this baby kale.

While I was in the garden, I took the opportunity to gaze around and I realized one thing that slows me down is my reluctance to pull some of the volunteers that come up every spring--those do nothing plants that are nothing more than eye candy. But maybe we need more eye candy in our lives.

I got out my macro lens for these tiny blue weed flowers that spread farther across our garden each spring. Though they must be weeds, but neither Tom nor I want to pull them. I hate to say that they've become an army now, but even so we still like them and hesitate to pull them until the flowers die. I tried to find out what they're called but I couldn't find any pictures of them. If anyone knows what they're called let me know.

Another thing that I love is these collard flowers that bloomed from collards I planted last fall. The plants suddenly shot up a few weeks ago and bolted. If you eat these flowers, they taste a exactly like collards, and more flowers open up every day. I saw birds eating them today.

Lately I've been thinking about pairing these pretty flowers with my arugula and some kind of fruit vinaigrette. I have some mulberries and some red currents tucked in the freezer and I'm mulling over the possibilities now.

The maintenance or commitment that a garden commands sometimes frightens me. And just because you plant the seeds or plant starts is no guarantee things will go as planned. It's like being a small scale farmer and these young plants could succumb to insects or diseases. It's a risk like farming, but we take it every year anyway.

The two hours went by quickly, and it wasn't long before I was thinking about the next date.

The only thing missing from the date was my Cooking Assistant. Poking his nose through the fence he looks so sad, but don't let that innocent look fool you. Sure he loves the garden but he nibbles on leaves, eats flowers, inhales strawberries and mauls vegetables, even lettuce--and he sometimes digs in the wrong places. Everyone has fun in the garden in their own ways, he tells me.

Why not explore your own garden like an artist? Who knows, magical things might happen.


Joan said...

What a lovely post! And by just seeing the flower I think it is Chinese Forget-Me-Not, quite invasive over time. I don't know the botanical name and with out seeing the leaves and over all plant, it's just a guess.

ddzeller said...

Thanks so much for letting me know what the pretty blue flower is Joan. I figured you'd been busy in your garden lately.

Joan said...

Yes, busy in between the rain showers and cold weather blended with warmth...what a goofy spring. Ya know that flower could also be brunnera...which also looks like a forget-me-not flower. Seeing the leaves would clinch it for sure. If you really must know you could take the flower and leaf to a nursery on your way to one of your fabulous farms! Happy Spring!

ddzeller said...

That's a great suggestion; I think I will take a flower and leaf to a nursery! Thanks Joan!