This week I’m thick in one of my favorite garden seasons: the dreaming.  Yes, it’s a time of close reckoning – what seeds do we have, what seeds do we need, what will prove a sound financial investment with our food dollars?  But mainly, it’s a time of glorious possibility.  Now, before we have broken the ground, I can visualize a garden that is host to hundreds of species, all thriving and abundantly producing.

Now, of course, we all know that this will not be.  This cannot be.  For in our world, all dreaming must ultimately descend to form.  As, literary critic Denis Donoghue, in his autobiography titled Warrenpoint, writes: “No thing is privileged merely by virtue of the fact that it has come into existence . . . it has gained the force of being, but at the expense of the other forms it might have taken: virtuality is the site of those forms” (1).  Hallelujah!  Let’s all go live there.

Certainly you forgive me this love affair with virtuality.  In the garden I can see — today, here, in the magical space behind my eyes — there is space for both corn and potato fields.  In this garden, twelve different types of tomatoes grow consistently, year after year, come drought or deluge.  In this garden we can always cycle three growing seasons.  An entire spice rack of herbs grows.  There is an established asparagus patch.

The garden in my imagination is miraculous, defying even the laws of physics.  But soon the earth will warm and spring will come.  Form will be demanded.  The seeds will open into seedlings and the seedlings will mature.  Many plants will survive and produce marvelously all the way to our bellies.  Others will not.  Some will thrive only to be eaten by rabbits.  Surely the squirrels will again feast on every ear of corn they can get to before me.  And there’s no telling what the soil and the wind and the rain and the sun have in store.

Though I have time yet, if only a bit.  Here in February, on the Southeastern coast of the United States, winter continues to ante a half-hearted hand.  There is still time to dream — and the dreaming does matter.  To quote Donoghue again: “creative force is not a force alternative to form but itself the particular form of its erupting into being” (2).  Your great imaginings over the seed catalogue, your visualizations over the tabula rasa of winter’s sleeping land, your cravings for that juicy vine ripened tomato – these energies are very, very real: it is they that will take root in your garden this coming spring.

And should those energies not descend to quite the forms you’ve dreamed, there is still hope.  In the end, the true power is in the repetition.  With every cycle of the seasons there is another opportunity to manifest our dreams.

© Jennifer S. and, 2012.


(1) Donoghue, Denis. Warrenpoint. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990.

(2) Donoghue, Denis. “The Force of Form.” 2000. Manuscript copy obtained directly from author.


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