Friday, December 9, 2011

Slow Love, Busy Life

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. 


  1. I wonder if being an introvert is almost a requirement for being a gardener?

    It's amazing to me, too, how many times a love of reading and a love of gardening go hand in hand.

    I know that I occasionally use my blog as a "stranger in the street," posing questions such as my recent one about Christmas gifts, which you so kindly commented on!

  2. I was thinking the same question as Gaia Gardener asked. Seems so many gardeners are happy loners. Have you read Me So Thorny's post called Quiet Story? Beautiful post about that very topic. Sometimes looking at a picture of your garden helps you look at it more objectively too, oddly enough. Not so much that you are looking at it from someone else's eyes (because you are looking at it with YOUR eyes, of course), but it's as if you are looking at someone else's garden. And we can all be objective about someone else's garden, right? Our garden becomes the stranger's garden, in effect.

  3. It's been very freeing, simply accepting that I am an introvert and have to have recovery time from too much social interaction. Gardening also provides lots of excuses for lack of social activity as few others want to spend their time with me, weeding my garden! And reading, well, something else I do by myself.

    Thanks, Prof, I think I'll skip the book though.


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