The Nature of Things


Like many well-intentioned gardeners who lose track of time amid the cookouts, road trips, business trips, and general lazing about in a hammock on a warm day, I planted a little garden in the spring and proceeded to let it go by the wayside through the summer months.

Despite my negligence, the limited number of plants managed an impressive yield of beans, carrots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. Maybe it was the several pounds of manure and compost I incorporated into the small beds months before. Or maybe it’s simply that nature knows what she’s doing without needing my hand. Not that I had much doubt that nature is pretty good at what she does, but I think as humans we have a habit of wanting to fiddle with things. As I’ve gotten older and learned a bit more, I’ve come to be more certain that this is true.

The last haul of the year from the garden.

As I pulled carrots and plucked beans, I thought of my favorite author the late Gene Logsdon who first got me thinking in this direction.

Born in 1931, Gene had an incredible talent for looking at his surroundings and picking out the idiosyncrasies of his Upper Sandusky, Ohio, farm (just a mile away from his childhood home): the species of trees that will grow first if a paddock is left to its own devices; the order in which his livestock will eat their preferred forages; the countless varieties of grasses and wildflowers in his pastures and when they would bloom and set seed. I was always amazed at how observant he was and how he worked with the ebb and flow of his farm. (I was also amused to learn that he was an avid slow-pitch softball player, a sport that I’ve enjoyed playing since childhood.)

One of the things I love about my job with GRIT is that I get to meet some of the most incredible and inspiring people, and Gene was going to be one of them. After a couple years as an editor with GRIT, I finally felt confident enough to request an interview with him. I sent him a letter via USPS, and just two days later, I received an email from him graciously agreeing to answer some of my questions. I sent back an enthusiastic reply, expecting another quick turnaround from him.

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