Reports are surfacing that Americans are watching more television than ever, with some estimates of up to 40 hours per week. This doesn’t include time spent with video games, e-mail, or other electronic media. We love the colors, the picture quality, and the passive entertainment, especially when we’re tired. While I don’t spend nearly that much time watching television, I do have my favorite shows–I’ve been in mourning since Ugly Betty’s cancellation, because she always made me laugh regardless of how difficult my day was.
Of course, humans are not the only species that enjoys kicking back and watching the world unfold. If you’ve ever had a cat, you know that they love a good warm spot to look out the window and study all the goings-on. For hours on end, they can watch grass growing, squirrels running up and down trees, and the occasional person walking the sidewalk with that most horrible of creatures, the dog (not my opinion, the cat’s).
It’s a slow pace, the life of a cat. We’re all so busy and important these days that sitting and watching the world seems pointless. There’s always so much to DO.
When we moved into our home and I had the brilliant idea of putting in a garden, I had no idea how much my life would change. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of “doing” involved in creating a garden. We’ve hauled in concrete half blocks, shoveled dirt, added compost and mulch, weeded, potted, repotted, etc. Building a garden from scratch takes a lot of work, and I’m glad I didn’t know how much before I got started!
Each day, early in the morning, I take a walk among the plants. I pick fruit from precocious trees so they can grow a better foundation. I lift weeds from among the sweet peppers. I make sure my thirsty irises have enough to drink.
One day I discovered my milkweed stripped bare of its leaves and covered with Monarch caterpillars. Concerned that they didn’t have anything more to eat, I ran out and bought more milkweed to plant, which made my guests quite happy. I left the pitiful, empty stalks of the milkweed in the ground, and lo and behold, within a few weeks new leaves sprouted. Later, I discovered cabbage worms on my broccoli, which sent me running in a panic to my organic gardening books. Attract wasps, they said, by planting some mint. Okay, I can do that. Actually, it’s a huge broccoli plant, so right now while the mint grows we share an uneasy coexistence. I don’t mind if they chew on leaves, but could you please leave the heads alone?
The peppers grow, and we’ll have cantaloupes in a few weeks from a wild tangle of curving leaves and yellow flowers. Of the package of seeds I planted, four sprouted, and it appears that those four seeds may feed an entire neighborhood. And as for me, while I do take an active role in the garden, feeding the plants, adding diverse species, etc., my main job is to observe. Nature works in her own way. I never thought I would be so enthralled by a caterpillar or by the appearance of a tiny pomegranate. But in these moments, connected to nature, I become part of it, maybe even part of the original Garden. When I am there, I feel closer to a state of pure being than in any other place. It’s better than any television show I could watch, because it’s real–no acting, no pretending, no charging admission. Now, even when I’m in the house, I find myself sitting in the sunroom, looking outside at the garden, just watching, just observing. Cat TV.