My garden is not very tidy. And, in spite of all the effort I put into looking after it, not especially productive in terms of harvested fruit and vegetables. We are not self sufficient. We depend on the very hard work of farmers in order to eat. Even so, my garden – my own most local outdoor environment – is a pleasant place to be. A place where I am particularly aware of the other living things with whom I must share resources.
We could produce more vegetables if we removed trees to let in more light, or dug up more areas of long grass and wildflowers. If we cut down weed seedheads more frequently, our annual vegetables would suffer less from competition. But these actions would also reduce the food available for non-human creatures. Not only would that be bad for them, it would be quite likely to cause an increase in pest attacks on the edible crops we already have.
My garden is what it is, and I get plenty of enjoyment out of it, as well as plenty of fresh food. The cultivated fruit and vegetables are often small and sometimes scarce, though I always plant a good variety. There are also wild leaves, roots, seeds, fruits and flowers. There is live wood and deadwood. There are decaying leaves and dried leaves, dried out hollow stems and other homes for small creatures. And there is soil, some managed, some left alone. Everywhere throughout this complicated mess, non-human life feeds and grows. Optimism need not be about the expectation of good things in the future, it can also mean the appreciation of what we have right now. Gardeners need not be forever fretting about what they might produce next year. This year, right here, right now, is worth appreciating.