Our Hunger

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“It seems to me we can never give up

longing and wishing while we are still alive.

There are certain things

we feel to be beautiful and good,

and we must hunger for them.”

George Eliot


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Have you ever considered how much our hunger inspires our gardening? 

Whether we hunger for peace, we hunger for beauty, we hunger for our own home grown fruits, or we hunger for purpose…  Our appetites may be fed through our efforts in the garden.


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Yet the garden feeds so many more hungry mouths and hearts than just our own.  July shows us just how many creatures gather here for sustenance.  They congregate peacefully, sharing summer’s feast. 


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Some scuttle out of sight at our approach, or fly to a further branch or higher blossom.  Evidence of their passing may be seen in a leaf ridden with holes, or a nibbled stem. 

Others take their meals alive and intact.


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Little of what we plant for ourselves will we harvest.  Perhaps some herbs, and a chili here and there; if we are lucky, a handful of figs. 

Experience has shown us that fruits go mostly to the squirrels before they can ripen.  They enjoy the hazelnuts, too.  Birds take the berries. 


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But we don’t really mind that much.  We consume the garden’s essence with our eyes, our hearts; breathing in its tranquil beauty each hour of the day.


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A gardener’s mind is restless. 

Perhaps our original sin is covetousness.  We wake in the night thinking of what we will plant in daylight. 


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We scheme to multiply the abundance.  We collect cuttings, hoard seeds, expand the empire of compost we steward. 


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We live in hope of attracting another species of bird, of spotting another sort of butterfly or bee. 

We hunger for those things we have not yet grown.  We dig, we build, we plant; we manifest the living vision which haunts our thoughts.


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Ours is the hunger which also nourishes. 

It leads us to to nourish our own hearts, and so much more….


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“If you don’t feel strong desires

for the manifestation of the glory of God,

it is not because you have drunk deeply

and are satisfied.

It is because you have nibbled so long

at the table of the world.

Your soul is stuffed with small things,

and there is no room for the great.”


John Piper


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Woodland Gnome 2015

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

11 responses to “Our Hunger

  1. Gorgeous pollinators–and their plants.

  2. I think St Francis’ “It is in giving that we receive” is amply manifested in our relationships with our gardens. Your post made me smile too, as this morning I was already beginning to think what new things I might grow next year 🙂

    • Thank you for the St. Francis quotation 😉 He is a great favorite of mine. My father kept a statue of him in our garden always when I was young…. in fact he still probably has that statue somewhere! Yes, we must plan ahead, Peggy…. planting season is almost upon us again! Giant hugs, WG

  3. Love all the pics of your garden, esp. the combo of begonias and ferns. Your Joe-Pye is getting big, I remember when you first got it. I was noticing mine today is huge – at least 6′ x 6′ – almost a shrub! It has a second year ‘baby’ that is almost as tall and will only get wider. Great fodder plant for so many of our little relations.
    Did you ever read Michael Pollen’s ‘Botany of Desire?’ Your subject today made me think of it. Plants get us to happily perpetuate their species. 🙂

    • Beautifully said, Eliza 😉 I’m glad you enjoyed the photos… I certainly enjoyed taking them and that spot with Ferns and Begonia is one of my favorites in the garden. That Begonia always makes me happy when it resurrects itself and begins to leaf out again. It restores my faith in life 😉 I know of the Pollen book, but have not read it. Thank you for the nudge! Yes, I’ll gladly cooperate in the proliferation of the species!!! Hugs, WG PS.. Barbara is home. Please help me harass her into posting/visiting once again 😉

  4. Laurin Lindsey

    A good provocative post! I do hunger to be surrounded by nature, it is my garden that makes living in the city bearable. The wildlife it attracts makes it even better. I have a little anole friend that lives outside my backdoor and he finally got brave enough to pose for photos, that made my day! We have a peaceful cohabitation! And I do plant more for the birds and the bugs than myself these days….I am happy to see them enjoy the garden as much as I do!

  5. On the one hand, we hunger and cover; on the other, we give and share freely…kinda like the bugs, who gobble and give back in equal measure.

  6. suzicate

    Ahhh, for the love of coneflowers (Echinacea)! The John Piper quote is extraordinary!

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