Story telling from Australia
It was comforting to visit the community garden this week, and not for the reasons you might think. The peas were showing signs of die back, caterpillars had been munching the broad beans and ‘failure to thrive’ would be the only way to describe some plants. There was even a snail in one of the beds. It’s not the homage to perfection I first thought.
The people who run it aren’t perfect either. I was on watering duty as a new recruit, and maybe I got the time wrong or maybe my watering buddy did; either way, he wasn’t there when I was, so the hose stayed locked inside the shed and the seedlings had to struggle until some kind soul with a key came to the rescue later that afternoon (I hope.)
With no way into the shed, and no-one answering my calls for help, I wandered through the beds for half an hour, picking off the odd snail or two and enjoying the quiet company of plants that, like me, weren’t perfect (chances are quite high that I was the one who got the time wrong). But they were still growing, still thriving.
An article in one of last Sunday’s magazines came to mind, in which the journalist interviewed the top rated participants on a number of online dating sites – they’re the ones who get the most ‘hits’, the ones consistently voted most kissable, most beautiful, most desirable. Between them they receive thousands of likes, prods and match requests every day.
As you might imagine, they were all attractive-looking people. They weren’t afraid to admit that they flicked through their possible matches at speed, deleting the dozens that didn’t instantly appeal and consigning other people like them – people looking for love – to the scrap heap. One girl spent the entire bus journey to work swiping through endless photos and a guy admitted he went on at least four dates a week; it was all to no avail.
What struck me was that all of them sounded slightly weary and jaded, even a tad surprised that being ‘the most desirable’ still hadn’t got them a match with ‘The One.’
Perfection’s overrated. As Peter Ustinov said, “It has no personality.”
So yes, some of the broad beans in the community garden are drooping, and the rocket has done its dash, but when I looked at the overall picture, and not at individual defects, the garden was a glorious triumph.
Give me personality any day. Give me Les Murray and his wonderful poem The Broad Bean Sermon
“…ripe, knobbly ones, fleshy-sided,
thin-straight, thin-crescent, frown-shaped, bird-shouldered, boat-keeled ones,
beans knuckled and single-bulged…”
And give me people who are less than perfect but who do their best; people who appreciate the value of collective effort.
Love the one you’re with I reckon, especially if you’re lucky enough to love a knobbly one.
So I left the community garden and went home to water my own pots, and tend to my own knobbly ones.