Resolutions and Visualization

  • Post published:01/02/2009
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The Commonweeder website did not exist in January 2008; I thought it would be fun to reprint this New Year’s Between the Rows column and see how I did.

For a number of years now I have not been too keen on New Year’s Resolutions. This is partly because I have lived long enough to have developed what I call the Driver’s Philosophy of Life. I remember when I was learning to drive I was always concentrating on the road right in front of my car, constantly making little corrections. I didn’t think about where I was going, beyond staying in my lane, and I did not look down the road to see what was coming. Now, as an experienced driver I look ahead, frequent corrections are not needed, but the journey to my destination is as sure, no matter how many rambling byways I wander down along the way

So I have found it to be in my life. If I just keep in mind my goal, in a general or ideal sense, that is where I will end up without worrying about the next step or correction. I don’t know if this is a universal rule, but it is how things have worked out for me. I certainly never ended up in Heath, in a house (however tumbledown) set in the midst of fields ringed with woods, with a garden and roses and chickens, because of any well thought out plan.

My reasoning has been that resolutions aren’t really necessary. Just visualization.

But as I approach 2008 I feel differently. I don’t think the upcoming election which we hope will bring about new and peaceful changes is the only reason. I think lots of us are feeling the need for change in the way we live, and feeling that we can bring about change in our society.

We are all creatures of routine and habit. This is not a bad thing – if we have good habits. Sometimes our routines lead us into bad, or at least, less good habits. I thought about this as I heard two people talking about cloth shopping bags. One said that it was a waste to buy those bags because people never actually remembered to bring them into the store. The other person acknowledged that this was a problem, but it was just a habit, and habits could be changed.

I now have three cloth bags suitable for grocery shopping, and confess I don’t always use them. Even when I get them in the car, I don’t always remember to bring them into the market. Habits are hard to break, but I am making a start. I resolve to persevere, even if I don’t always remember. Baby steps count. This is the way new habits are formed.

Inspired by my conversation with Ricky Baruc of Seeds of Solidarity Farm who said his farm is all about worms, and reading Amy Stewart’s book about worms, The Earth Moved, I have made a resolution to get a worm farm and begin my own adventures in vermiculture and worm composting. You can count on hearing more about worms during 2008.

I’ve always admired my worms when I’ve been digging in the spring, and knew that their tunnels helped aerate the soil and their castings made the soil more fertile, but I didn’t fully appreciate the enormous impact that worms can have on soil fertility

I am going to learn more about native plants and the importance of each individual plant in my landscape. The book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in our Gardens by Douglas W. Tallamy gave me a much clearer vision of the food web. Before I concentrated on the vitality of native plants growing where they were intended to grow, without thinking about how those native plants provide food and shelter to all the birds and butterflies I welcome in my garden.

I have joined the New England Wildflower Society ( and plan to spend some enlightening time at the NEWFS gardens at Nasami Farm in Whately

Because I am a reader, I start a lot of my education with books and William Cullina who is the director of horticultural research at NEWFS has two books that I have found wonderfully useful: The New England Wildflower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada, and Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines. I’m looking forward to Native Ferns, Moss and Grasses coming in February.

I am going to launch a website, The domain name is mine: construction has begun. Stay tuned. Readers can already logon to my blog for new postings and information every day or two and leave me a comment. You can also email me at to ask questions or make suggestions.

I am committed to this new enterprise, which will enlarge the community that I can commune and communicate with. Already I feel new doors opening, new things to think about and to learn, and fascinating new people to ‘meet’ – if only in the ether.

And my final resolution is to enjoy the garden, Sometimes I need to be reminded to get up off my knees, to look up from the weeds, and to enjoy the sun and the rain and the wind that blows. The beauty and variety, the simplicity and complexity of nature are there before us. I have to remember to really open my eyes.

And so I wish for all of you good weather, good planting, good harvest and a bloomin’ good new year. December 29, 2007

How did I do? I use canvas shopping bags at least 90% of the time, not only getting them into the car, but bringing them into the store. I have planted more native varieties including a small sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboreum).I also started my worm farm. And, as you can see, the Commonweeder website does exist, although still very much a work in progress. I continue to visualize.

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