Cuttings

Between Nature and Culture

ILLUSTRATION BY RUSSELL THORNTON

And so I read to garden, and gardened to read, counting myself lucky for having stumbled on a sideline with such a lively and lasting literature. For what other pastime has spawned so many fine books? Only fly-fishing comes even close. (Numismatics? Woodworking? Macramé? Come on!) Which is probably no accident: for gardening, like angling, engages us with the natural world, as actors rather than passive spectators. Both put us smack on the frontier between nature and culture, which is always an interesting place for a writer to stand. And both literary traditions pose practical and philosophical questions about how we might better go about rhyming our desires with nature’s ways, questions that only grow more urgent with time.

From Michael Pollan’s Introduction to Karel Capek’s The Gardener’s Year (which is still my all-time favorite gardening book). Sent in by Nancy Beall of Harrisonburg, VA, after we saw each other at our 50th high school reunion!


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