I've been caught up reading Slow Love by Dominique Browning lately. Subtitled "How I Lost My Job, Put on Pajamas,& Found Happiness," Slow Love is not so much about gardening as it is about facing change and growing older. I picked it up because I've enjoyed several of Browning's other, more garden-centered works including Paths of Desire and Around the House and In The Garden.
This one, though, is not so much about gardening as it is about life. I seem to be on a binge of reading works more suited to despairing or overheated middle-aged females than crusty old males, but I still enjoyed Slow Love. Perhaps I should see my physician for a testosterone-level check? Well, anyway, I enjoyed the book except for all the hand-wringing relationship angst about a non-committal male nicknamed "Stroller", so there still may be some hope that I can keep my grouchy and crotchety image for the public. I also had a little problem identifying with Ms. Browning's divorced state, since the extreme patience and tolerance of Mrs. ProfessorRoush has allowed me to avoid that particular moniker. Mrs. ProfessorRoush, however, does always takes care to point out that I'm continually on thin footing.
What Slow Love does offer, for the gardener, is a little bit of gardening advice mixed in with a lot of good life advice. I was particularly taken by two ideas. One was the simple idea of running your own current troubles by "the stranger in the street". In other words, if you explained the situation to a stranger in the street, what would he/she/they think about it? Following this advice would make any person face their problems to the point that if any of the "Kardashians" or the characters of "Teen Moms" would think about it, they wouldn't be nearly as successful on TV as they are. I've always used this one, whether I consciously knew it or not, because of a really good innate ability to step outside myself and look at things fairly objectively. It works in gardening too. Try it. The next time you place that hot pink impatiens next to the orange marigold, just ask yourself, what would Sydney Eddison or Lauren Springer-Ogden think of that combination? Would they vomit uncontrollably, laugh in derision, or applaud your boldness?
The other interesting thought from the book was Mrs. Browning's definition of introverts and extroverts. She states something to the effect that "extroverts are energized by public encounters while introverts need to recover from them." I agree wholeheartedly with this one, since I function acceptably in public, but I need loads of alone time, reading or writing or in the garden, to recharge and rest. My introversion comes honestly and genetically from my own Mother, with whom I share many personality traits, not the least of which is the ability to keep myself occupied and perfectly happy free from contact with people and society in general.
It is a useful trait for a gardener, this ability to withdraw into nature for long periods of time, but not so useful for the gardener's family life or relationships. I could have told Ms. Browning that without reading Slow Love, but that would have cheated both of us from her enjoyment of writing the book and mine of reading it.