I happened to slow down long enough in Powell's to find Wendy Johnson's Gardening at the Dragon's Gate. I didn't know this book was coming down the pike, and -- stupid snob that I am -- I almost dismissed it because the cover is too glorious for words, and it's published by Bantam Books. My first two thoughts: "Oh wow! Oh, hype."
Oh, my... I'm so glad I took a closer look inside. I've been searching for this very book for many years.
(Dear friends at Bantam, I mean no offense. In fact, I am a friend and published my anthology with Knopf. My shelves are crammed with books by specialized horticultural publishers and others who specialize in weird spiritual niches. I have learned my lesson. Bravo! This is a ground-breaking book! no pun intended...)
Wendy Johnson is one of the founders of Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin County (connected with Tassajara and the SF Zen Center). Gardening at the Dragon's Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated World is about how the garden and natural world change us. It's about meditation and learning to see plants and soil deeply. It's about the "interbeing" (an expression from Thich Nhat Hanh, one of her "root teachers") between plants, humans, history, and consciousness. It's about assimilation and growth -- as gardeners and as human beings.
I've read so much gardening stuff and so much consciousness stuff that I've grown weary of it all. I want to be taught, transformed, moved, changed by what I read. It has been so long since a book has delivered.
I'm only in chapter two (!), and I'm changed. Wait until I write my blog manifesto about poop!