Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fit as a Dimension of Transformation

March 29, 2015

Dear Friends,

Those seductive seed catalogues now appear weekly in my post office box. 

So far I have wrestled successfully with the temptation they present. Neither the catalogs nor the calendar’s report of the arrival of Spring have persuaded me to do more than remove some dead foliage from the salvia and sedum that are greening up nicely. I have also admired the courage of some snapdragons that appear to have reseeded successfully in an inhospitable spot against the garage wall.

Forty springtimes in the Rockies make me remember that here in the Front Range snow appears briefly but regularly through mid-May.

Still—the High Plains Gardens Catalog is featuring a promising form of agastache (cana Rosita). This plant has made itself at home in their test gardens under harsh conditions of heat and cold and has reseeded vigorously in unfertile arid soil. Their gardeners report that Rosita does poorly only if pampered. Sounds like the ideal plant for the spot against the garage wall where last year the sun and heat left both verbena and petunias straggly-looking survivors by end of July. 

Maybe I could order Rosita and start her in a pot indoors and then move her by gradual steps to the patio, and then on Memorial Day weekend put her safely into the ground. On the other (and wiser) hand, I could admire her handsome portrait in the catalog until May, then order her and set her directly into her reserved spot by the garage wall when she arrives from Santa Fe.  

In addition to a picture of Rosita, the seed catalogs have provided good material for thought about the diminishment process.

I began to think with you about the transformative power of diminishment last week, but the progression of thought that I planned has been challenged by these seed catalogs. Somehow there is a complex relationship between the diminishment process and the “fit” between the organism and the environment. 

Suppose with me that Rosita finds her way from Santa Fe High Country Gardens into the hot, unfertile flower bed that borders my garage. 

Suppose further that in this hot, arid spot Rosita prospers in tough unpampered resilience. Despite this performance, diminishment will come in September and October, and by November Rosita will be dormant and leafless under the first winter snow.  Diminishment will come.

But somehow as I think today about this diminishment, Rosita's process appears (at least in my mind) to have a transformative quality that last year’s diminishment of petunias did not exhibit. 

This makes me wonder: is the transformative quality of diminishment influenced by the “fit” between the environment and the organism? 

Diminishment acts inevitably to change the living organism, but is the transformative nature of that change process qualified by the congruence of fit between the organism and its environment?

I am thinking again today of Parker Palmer’s observation that to feel at home in our own skins and at home on the face of the earth are perhaps the two deepest yearnings in our lives. Perhaps we humans know intuitively that congruence between our authentic self and both its inner and outer environment is the crucial factor in influencing the transformative power of life’s inevitable diminishment process.

See you next week.



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