Through me the landscape thinks itself

Butterfly on zinnia flower

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail on a yellow zinnia, which is a showy flower rich in nectar—butterflies love zinnias. It’s growing amid a patch of calendula, in front of a stand of blue salvia. The constant work of the pollinators, mainly bees but also some birds and butterflies, is one of the more vivid reminders that a garden is not a “thing” so much as living process. It provides resources for many participants on endless levels.

As I’ve engaged the garden more mindfully, the constant movement of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds drawn to the pollen and nectar has become more vividly present to me, in the course of the slow awakening that is a garden.

At first thought, it’s clear that it is I that am awakening, as what becomes present for me was there before I knew it. But then, I am the garden’s consciousness of what it is—”Through me the landscape thinks itself,” as Cezanne observed. So the garden needs me if it is to awaken to itself.

The garden has less existence without me. I don’t mean my labor, though that is part of it, so much as my awareness of the structured and articulated place I have engaged, without which the garden would be what Nietzsche said the world was without the engagement of a conscious being: “a chaos of sensations.”

So being present to what is present is part of the work—an attentive listening.