Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Aequam Servare Mentem

When I put these plant series together, I keep in mind that I have had to experiment with a plant here first before writing about them on this blog.  You can read something in a magazine, but that doesn't always mean it's true.  When you work with the plant hands on, it's honest and true reporting from your own personal experiences. These writes continue from my Garden Journal over the past decade of working in our Sonoran Desert landscape.  I have no degree in plants so I can't write about the quantum mechanics, transwarp theories or how to clone grass onto human skin to become the Swamp Thing, but I can tell you how I've spent my thousands of dollars here in Tucson:)  I am a docent for the Tucson Botanical Gardens and run the El Presidio Gardens as their landscaper.  What does that make me?  Nothing really....just a guy who likes to work outside in the garden and one who loves all plants great and small. However, there are people, like doctors and teachers etc, who think their fecal material doesn't smell. Students go to teachers because they want to learn about new things.  They shouldn't be treated as if they are annoying pests.  If you think about it, most of us are all life long learners of different things just wanting to improve who we are in this world. I guess that's in all walks of life, right? But sometimes I watch gardener's faces as they are treated like inferiors and I recognize what the plant experts are doing.  When we, the simple gardener folk turn our backs, the experts laugh about our silly questions. Who made them Gods?  It's just a gripe of mine.  Not everyone is like this but now I've met my first turkey Dr. Botanist.  But do let me clarify that most of the botanists I've met or know are really wonderful people, but there are always a few in every crowd that get me angry with their superiority complex.

During times of anger, I transport myself to open air landscapes like Picacho Peak outside of Tucson.  It helps me breathe and step away from the issues.
For example, let me share some Spanish and Garden observations on culture.  Here in Tucson, my students who are hispanic and can't speak Spanish, will sit at family functions on the "English" side of the room while the Spanish speaking side sit together on the opposite end of the room. This makes sense being around people who can understand one another.  What's frustrating for the non Spanish speakers however, is that they feel left out.  During Spanish conferences, AP snots from Spain will sit on one side of the room using their traditional lisp to mark that they studied in Spain while native teachers or people who are from or have studied in Mexico, Peru, etc. will again sit on the other side of the room.  See a pattern? Argentineans will also sit with the Spaniards because they feel that their own Spanish is 2nd to the mother language.   But wait...there's more.  There are Spanish teachers who can't speak Spanish very well at all, and they are the ones that are made fun of by the snots!  Here is my issue.  Their heart is pure and golden and they want to do what's best for their students and faculty back at their own sites.  Why would you treat someone poorly who wants to better themselves in such a positive fashion? In a sense, it's a type of professional bullying.  It doesn't just happen with teens. As I get older, I tolerate less and snap.  This past summer at an AP conference, I did just that and it felt good.  Okay okay....but how does that relate to gardening?

Sometimes I think of a butterfly fluttering its' wings and it calms me down.
What I described about this Spanish tragedy also occurrs in the plant world as I am sure it does in everything else.  I am now one of "those" gardeners who wants to learn as much as he can about this topic.  The only thing that saves me is that I travel and have gone to many of the places these experts talk about....I have several peers in the field and one of them is a very dear friend to me who is a botanist in New Zealand.  Another works in Michigan educating kids about the wonders of our natural environment.... while several others travel and collect plant specimens etc from different locations around the world.  I find it fascinating that in such a beautiful field of nurturing and growth that gardening has this "other" society to it. Being me, I'll study this "other society" as well over the course of years to come. So what really gets me?  I'll tell you!!!  It's when plant doctors talk over the heads of your everyday gardener and just love to hear themselves talk about plants using their latin names. Gardener's eyes glaze over.  This happened recently when a pompous turkey was giving a tour and lost half the crowd during the presentation. He didn't listen to what the audience was asking nor did he seem to care. I always tell my students that even if an instructor is not their favorite, they still have something to teach....sometimes the message comes out differently than it would from someone down to earth who has human skills, but there is still a message.  I try to listen to my own words when this happens to me.  I give really good advice to the kids....just wish I could follow my own advice sometimes:)  Anyhow, I don't know if anyone feels this way, but I thought I'd share several of my observations.  I think this is one of my life's challenges.  I get this thinking from my father who is a good man and taught me to step back from those irritating types of people.  For better or for worse, I need to be in the professional circles many times to gather information (or I'm just stuck in their circles trying to find a way to get out!).  It's the "stuck in the group" part that drives me nuts. It's not about what you own, who you know, or what you've purchased.  At the end of the day, it's about your self accomplishment and pride for what you've done for others and what difference or mark you've left behind that will have a positive impact for yourself and others.  It's also about how you treat people.  The low self esteemed who love to shove their arrogance (in the form of knowledge), generally lack the self confidence in their own lives (and do not get that validation in their own world). I recognize this a lot and it's sad.  The other case is that they're just not human (nor do they possess any human social skills).   

Many times I remember my family and draw strength from their thoughts and words about jerks.
Wow! This post was to be on something else but instead turned into a gripe session....sorry...I had to get this off my chest:)  But I think it's a valid concern about the world we live in......much more positive and light thoughts coming your way.  Stay tuned for more from this garden and travel blog.

Other times I transport myself on a trip I took somewhere fun and far like in this picture here in Paris, France or sitting at the base of this 500 year old olive tree  in Southern France near Nime.  These mental techniques keep me from exploding at ignorance....most of the time:) I love vacation!


  1. That was one great post - I think breaking from plants to talk about the human condition (and why plants are soothing and easier to be with than difficult "people") is RIGHT-ON!

    My late father was northern Italian, my late mother was Sicilian...same exact thing as your levels of Spanish teachers! Northern Italy = upper crust Scottsdale, Sicily = Ciudad Juarez. Though my parents loved each other, at least!

    Tribalism, bullyism, etc - still alive and "well"! Maybe getting people like this all turned on to common loves - food, drink, and plants - is a key in getting them to drop the snobbery?

  2. A very Positive post with a lot in between to "breathe about..."


Thanks for stopping by!