This I Believe

Gene - Nashville, Tennessee
Entered on October 26, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: nature

I believe in landscaping.

I have discovered that the work we do and the tools we use help shape the principals that guide our lives. Landscaping is hard work and I believe that hard work cleanses the soul.

If God put man in the Garden of Eden to order it, that makes landscaping the worlds oldest profession.

I love being around other landscapers. I was at a local meeting of my colleagues this past Christmas. We were ruddy skinned, fit men, with mud on our boots. We had wind swept unkempt hair, with no consideration for regular shaving. We all wore earth tone durable clothes that were loose fitting enough for us to be able to reach down and feel the soil. We were men who were participating in the most ancient of traditions and were learning from all its inherent lessons.

What can be more gratifying than creating an ever-changing natural display of art? You can hear it move in the wind, smell it as fragrances stir, feel it as you extend your hand to the texture of the bark and taste it as you bring its fruits to your mouth.

For me, it is most rewarding to walk through a landscape that stirs the senses in the dead of winter. It shows foresight and far reaching imagination. The designer had to project what plants and features to be integrated in the landscape to give winter interest. Like ornamental grasses that rattle their brown leaves in the cold wind or the interesting boulder with moss on it that is only exposed after the leaves fall. These considerations show patience and planning, and are only fully realized after the season has taken its toll.

I have seen men who are haunted by their demons find one days peace at a time, by making their only concern for the day the installation of a well-imagined landscape. I have watched them pound on the earth with a spade until their hands bled, lost in the rhythmic turning of the soil-giving a piece of themselves for the temporary escape from life’s other worries. Men lost to their work so that the sun passes below the horizon before they realize the day is gone.

I know my landscapes are never complete. They require constant diligence to keep in order. Like Sisyphus and the boulder, I order it only to have it fall into more disorder with every passing day. That plot of ground has a history as ancient as the world itself. It has undergone profound change through the years. I count it an honor, that for at least a brief period, I can put an order to this plot of earth that seems good to me. That order will either be honored by those that come or forgotten in time. It speaks to the strength of my ordering if that design inspires others to sacrifice of their time and energy for its maintenance and preservation. Landscaping teaches me that I should seek to order things guided by the aesthetic and enduring principals that will help find preservation at the hands of those to come.