Yikes! I screamed when a spider climbed over my brand new gardening shoes up to my well moisturized calf. I got up with a start, stamped my foot in disgust and ended up killing a few ants before shrugging the spider off. Again, I squatted down gingerly, determined to finish the vegetable patch and started digging with a hand tool (I don't know what it’s called!) held in my gloved hands, careful not to let any part of my body touch the dirt.
But alas, my city-bred, 'first-world-country' ensconced self had hugely underestimated the task. The tools I had bought for the only reason that they were the cheapest, were good enough, at the most, to dig around a potted plant. In spite of poking, prodding, nudging and hitting as hard as I can, with all my might, the earth won't budge. The only thing I was successful in doing was making huge clanking noises and causing few birds to flutter away in disgust. A row of ants gorging on a fallen plum had scattered and it seemed that they were trying to get as far away from me as possible.
From this angle and at this time the vegetable patch looked enormous. It did not seem that huge when I had looked at it in the morning with a cup of coffee in my hand and my mind warmed by resolve that I had made the previous night after reading an article about how to raise an organic vegetable garden. As soon as I woke up in the morning, I had gone pronto to buy new gardening gloves, shoes and whatever else I could find to wear for my new hobby and also a few seeds.
The earth looked pliant and clean when I came to the yard with a bunch of computer printouts describing the digging, plowing, planting and fertilizing. It all seemed pretty simple! But when I squatted down and took a closer look, I saw that the ground was hard and cracked and was teeming with all kinds of insects. I could only recognize the ants and the spiders, but there were others that I had never seen in my life. Some were bright orange, others jet black, but all were equally disgusting. I tried to shoo them by stamping my feet and waiving the printouts to blow them away and was successful in warding them off to an extent. But I think they were terrified of me more than I was terrified of them so they seemed to have scurried away at their own accord! Yet, there were some obnoxious ones, like this rogue spider that were stubborn enough to hang around and climb up my shoes. Still, I persisted with my task bravely, not paying attention to the spiders or to the disgust I was feeling.
I had been digging for a long time now and had succeeded in scratching only a few inches of the surface of only a part of the entire patch. I had even put some water, hoping it will make it somewhat easier to dig. I had lost all my carefulness to keep myself away from the dirt and had attacked the stubborn earth with vengeance. By the time I was half way through the patch, my clothes, my shoes, my gloves were entirely covered with mud. I had gotten some of it in my hair too when I tried unsuccessfully to push back some strands from my forehead. As I looked at the remaining work to be done, my mind was filled with dread. No way was I going to complete this, I thought. There were so many things to be done yet - the fertilizing, the planting and the weeding that would soon follow. What had I set myself against I wondered, a trifle irritated with my over enthusiasm. In a while I was frustrated with the effort and, carelessly, just threw the seeds around the patch and went inside the house to take a long, hot shower. Of course, since I was so exhausted with the hard work I put in, we went out to dinner and went to sleep early. As I slept soundly, some time in the night the Nature fairy arrived and gently touched the seeds that I had so carelessly thrown in the ground, with the magic of life.
In the days after my first half hearted effort at gardening, the vegetable patch lay abandoned in the backyard of my house. The automatic sprinkler system kept on watering it faithfully and my enthusiasm had waned as I got entangled with various things my life. Then one day, just like that, the earth burst out with tender, verdant shoots. In a few days, the seeds that I had thrown had taken to the ground. That is when I realized the innocent, unconditional love of Nature. It had forgiven my cockiness, my ignorance, my clumsiness and even my pretension and endowed me with a gift of life. It had accepted me with open arms in spite of myself. And I was no longer just a shod and gloved, pretentious outsider, I was part of the Nature. Even my clumsy, half hearted attempts at being a part of it, were accepted, appreciated and rewarded manifold.
Now if you see me anywhere, with a tan on my face, a few scratches on my legs, just a little mud in my nails, fear not, for I must have been outside in the garden, playing with Nature with my fingertips.