Despite Amy’s newness to the subject, I was finally convinced by the chapter called “Manual Labor” that I was reading the story of a real gardener. Real gardeners do serious work and sometimes wrench their backs so badly they fall in pain onto the ground, immobile “like a plant, I thought, unable to roll over or turn my face away from the sun.” And she was only 25 at the time – I love that part! Then after
a period of healing we gardeners pick ourselves up, consult chiropractors, lift weights and do sit-ups, and it usually pays off. “Over time, I had become strong enough to take care of myself in the garden. I had become good at something I had never imagined I’d ever wanted to be good at – manual labor.”
But it’s rare when even a seasoned gardener has the peak experience it must have been for her when she joined the landscaping crew at a house being rehabbed by her employers. She’d already had the fun of deciding what plants to use and finding them, but there’s nothing like digging for a girl who loves dirt, so she picked up a shovel and got to work. Later, before driving off in their truck, the workers shook her
hand and said, “Eres muy buena trabajadora,” which even my high school Spanish tells me is high praise. I’m total a sucker for stories of people experiencing physical empowerment from working with nature to create beauty, especially if they’re bantamweight girls – I mean women, of course.