With everything going on in the world, it can seem superfluous to be prattling on about my garden. And yet, I don’t feel like I am one to add anything meaningful to the conversation. As a privileged, older, white person, it feels more than ever like a time to just be quiet, listen to the stories being told and to think.
At the same time, being quiet and simply escaping to my garden to think, feels more and more uncomfortable.
I do all my thinking while on my knees in the garden and lately, I have been thinking a lot.
I have often romanticized homesteading and will always have tremendous respect for all the hard work and difficulty my ancestors endured.
At the same time I know I haven’t thought enough about the dark side of homesteading and what it did to the indigenous people who were here first.
In our corner of the world the racism towards indigenous people cannot be denied.
I feel hopelessly inadequate to speak to it at all. Not to mention nervous. The last thing I want is to offend anyone. Like I said, this is a time to listen respectfully to the stories being told. And the stories are heartbreaking.
As I understand it, the indigenous people had no word in their language for selling or owning property. The very idea was preposterous. You couldn’t own land. You respected it, you hunted on it, you harvested from it, you lived on it, you moved across it, you cared for it, but no human owned it.
I read one account where an indigenous person said there was always a haunted, craving expression on the white people’s faces that they didn’t understand. He spoke to how white people were always wanting more, more, more and were never satisfied with what they already had.
If you take time to read or listen to the stories about having a whole way of life taken away, being forced onto reservations, told to adopt a european culture or the tragedies of the residential schools, you can’t deny we need to make amends.
Imagine if someone came to your home, told you it was now theirs, took your children and put them into schools where they were horribly abused and relentlessly tried to void everything that defined your culture. Now imagine being told to get over it and move on. Would you? Could you?
Imagine ships arriving on your shores, kidnapping your loved ones and taking them across the ocean where they were now called slaves and sold like animals simply because of the colour of their skin.
Imagine still being treated like your life didn’t matter as much as a white person’s, centuries later.
Could you just ignore it? Would you not come to a point where you said enough was enough?
White people can deflect what is happening by condemning the protests for taking place during a pandemic. Or we can point to the violence or looting instead of the peaceful protesting that is predominate. We can preface our defensive opinions with, “I’m not a racist but…” which almost always means we probably are racist, but just don’t realize it. Or we can simply deny there is a problem at all.
Or we can do the very minimum being asked of us and simply listen and seek to understand. We can listen hard, speak soft and above all, be kind. We can take time to think.
So I go to the garden, get down on my knees and think.
While I’m down there I notice the pockets of the garden with the most diversity are always the areas that thrive.
Nature hates a monoculture.
When one variety dominates a piece of ground for too long, disease eventually sets in. Companion planting has long been seen as a way of making a more beautiful and productive garden.