Communion Of Dreams


This ain’t Pyrrus.

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About two weeks ago I mentioned this:

Oh, I know the reality of modern publishing well enough to realize that I would still have to do a lot of work to promote the book(s). But being able to hand most of that over to others would be worthwhile. And getting a sufficient amount of money in advance to take off some of the financial pressure of needing to earn money day in and day out would be a big help as well.

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Great story:

HATCH: For Jefferson’s to come out into this garden was sort of an affirmation of his vigor in so many different ways. And even at the age of 83, Jefferson read about giant cucumbers in a Cleveland, Ohio newspaper. And he wrote to the governor of Ohio and asked him for seeds of this cucumber, and passed them around to his friends in Charlottesville; grew them in his garden; typically measured how long each one was that came out of his garden. And Jefferson once wrote that although I’m an old man, I am but a young gardener.

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It was a difficult year. A painful year. And while that pain has lessened over the months, it still causes difficulties for me in terms of limiting my energy and ability to focus on what I need to do.

I’m 53. Be 54 in July. Overall, I’m in much better health than I could be, as my doc reminded me at my recent annual physical. I don’t like to think of myself as being limited in what I can do. Oh, I have no illusions that I’m still 20 or anything, but still I find it frustrating that there is this factor which intrudes on my ability to accomplish things.

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This ain’t Pyrrus. The gravity isn’t twice Earth normal. All the flora and fauna isn’t dedicated to the notion that it should kill me as quickly as possible, and I don’t have to be in peak physical condition at all times to just have a *chance* to survive each day.

That’s what most people remember about Harry Harrison’s classic novel Deathworld, if they remember anything at all. What is too often forgotten is that the real story was one of adaptation and learning to live with the environment of Pyrrus rather than just battling it in a forever war.

And out of necessity, that is the lessen I am going to attempt with my garden this year. Where for most of the last decade I have put a huge amount of effort into trying to keep the local critters out of my substantial garden, I just don’t have the time or energy for that now.

I’m scaling back the whole garden – yeah, a bunch of hot peppers, but other than that I’m just going to plant a half dozen or so tomato plants. Enough to provide us fresh toms this summer and fall, perhaps with some extra for a couple batches of sauce. But I’m not going to try and set up to can my usual 60 pints of chopped tomatoes and a couple dozen pints of sauce. And I’m not going to put down a double layer of landscape fabric to keep down weeds. Perhaps most importantly, I’m not going to set up a 200′ perimeter deer fence 7′ tall with a 2′ chicken wire base to try and keep out all the critters. I’ll take some other steps to try and keep the individual plants safe, but that’s it.

This is a big change for me. I really enjoyed gardening the way I have for the last few years. But I just don’t have the necessary energy to do it, given the other things I have to see to.

But everyone makes those decisions. You have to change, or you die.

Maybe this place is more like Pyrrus than I thought.

Jim Downey

*Of course.