Each year we make a little progress in improving our garden home, but we're also aware that we're starting twenty years later than we might've…

This article was originally posted on "Little Urantial," the now-gone mail list, on 1997 Jan 18. As with many discussions online, the background for this is a little convoluted. In a discussion of various Urantia Book-related legal matters, I had, in passing, mentioned the role of the gardener for the Urantia Foundation headquarters, and my statement was mistaken such that a correspondent asked if I had "lost interest in gardening," whether I had lost sight of "gardening's vital importance as a human activity." Following is my response.

You've put me in a very delicate position here.

If you were joking, that was a fantastic bit of rare, dry wit, and I'd like to congratulate you on it. But if it was wit, it was so dryly presented, and I'm so unfamiliar with you, that I can't tell if you were joking or really trying to take me to task!

If you were at all serious, then to laugh at the wit could likely be aggrevating to you, and furthermore I'd be forced to tediously defend my remarks by reiterating the crucial difference between the work of a printer or a gardener and the work of those who actually represent the book itself. Surely you didn't miss my highly-qualifying remark that every person is a brother or sister to the UBer, did you?

My choice of "gardener" was quite intentional, at any rate, and far from intending to demean the position, it is a position I would have enjoyed, just as I (having worked to restore fine older buildings) would have enjoyed the "menial" task of being able to handle the restoration of that lovely building at 533 Diversey.

When Mary Jo and I joined one another in the eternal adventure, over twenty years ago, we then resided, all too briefly, on a piece of property of which I owned an undivided one-quarter, and thus, technically, it was not mine at all, at least as far as freedom to operate it as we wished. In this little corner of Washington County, Oklahoma, my great-grandfather worked, and my grandparents' gardens grew. My grandmother made it nigh-Edenic with her rosebushes and peacocks.

All that disappeared after my grandfather and father died in quick and shocking succession, and all our efforts to buy or lease the property were thwarted by my partners. The place deteriorated. As the caretaker for all those years has said, when a tree died, he'd just take out the stump, pat the dirt down, and hope the grass grew. That was the extent of the "gardening" he could do, besides the small garden he and his wife grew behind their house. As years went by, and his budget was repeatedly cut, he did what he could, but mostly the property was neglected.

Meanwhile, Mary Jo and I spent thirteen years with a gardener-frustrating postage-stamp yard in Chicago, bringing forth what we could from that sandy and often-frozen patch. Then, finally, a few years ago, we were suddenly able to acquire the old family place. We made numerous sacrifices (some of which I'm still paying for mightily) to move back there, to be on the land.

I spent the first few years going around ripping out several miles of poison ivy, poison oak, and other vines which threatened to strangle the remaining oaks, pecans, and pines, and clearing the heavy growth from the long concrete wall which my grandfather poured around the living area.

Now my children enjoy strawberries and pecans and morning glories brought forth from that long-neglected soil. Each year we make a little progress in improving our garden home, but we're also aware that we're starting twenty years later than we might've — we really wanted to raise our kids here from the beginning. Perhaps, in some Supreme device, this was the Only Way for us; perhaps we wouldn't have valued it quite so highly had we not been forced away for so many years. I do wish we'd been building up our organic garden soil for twenty years already, though.

Lately, Mary Jo and I have been drooling through the seed catalogues, planning our expansion of the cultivation efforts we've made so far. Building a natural intercropped intensive organic garden is a joyous labor, and while we err often (our apple trees died), we're learning. I'm personally especially fond of what I joke is morontia vegetation — purple plants. (As I recall, violet is said to be to morontia vegetation what chlorophyll-green is to earthly plant life.)

Haven't yet, but I'd like to have a part of our yard planted in three concentric circles of azure blue flowers surrounded by white alyssum (a/k/a carpet of snow). Think I should plant a little (R) near it? :)

I really hope you were joking. But whether or not you were, thank you, for I'd rather talk about the joys of gardening than the tedium of lawsuits any day! :Don