When friends and blog readers think a blog writer is soon to be the Julia Child of gardening, they send the blog writer articles and anecdotes about gardening. It’s interesting and unsettling all at the same time. Since today is “Tiny Steps Gardening Day” I thought I would share a few of the gems I receive in the course of a week here at old Aunt Tomato’s chicken coop-sized condominium.
One of my good friends reads The New York Times religiously and “Amen” to that. It saves me a lot of time because she’s like a personal reading service, sending me articles that might help or benefit the blog. Her recent contribution came at an interesting time because I have been contemplating the “natural world” and comparing it to the “techo-mechanized world.” My first reaction to the piece was that it must be a boulder of an article, given that it had taken not one but TWO writers to roll it up the mountain of the NYT’s “Technology” section.
The words “tiny drone” in the first sentence made me anxious and the second paragraph needled me with “there is no aspect of nature that can’t be improved with a rechargeable motor and a sensor or two.” My shock continued as I learned that the VegiBee, invented by a department store executive, could help me pollinate my tomato plants by touching their flowers with a vibrating device.
This seemed like the height of impropriety; Aunt Tomato’s tomatoes grow on Pleasant Street, not in Kim Kardashian’s backyard!
Unfortunately, the two Sisyphus-like authors had to keep rolling their boulder of a story back up the hill because their credibility was lost with me. The bombastic and absurd writing style revealed that although the authors may be able to grow profits for gadget-makers with their promotional pens, they know nothing about growing food. Here’s a snip of their foolishness:
“Outdoors, gardeners are constantly battling voracious creatures. It never fails that, just when you’re ready to pick that perfect tomato, a squirrel snatches it away.”
A squirrel? A SQUIRREL?
Before I throw a blood clot, let me conclude with one final piece of sensationalism. The garden drone used as a teaser in the article’s opening was actually an engineering project at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, but the students “didn’t test their device to see if it deterred garden animals.”
I hope my New York Times reading friend will forgive me for being such an old stick in the mud when it comes to garden gadgets. It’s possible that this quote by American author and essayist Edward Abbey caused the cognitive dissonance:
“The domination of nature made possible by misapplied science leads to the domination of people; to a dreary and totalitarian uniformity.”
In other garden related communiques, Reggie Black tells me his cucumbers have not only sprouted but “those happy little dicots are a good two inches high already!”
Oh, La! Now that is a Pleasant Street kind of story. Alert the media and THE SQUIRRELS!
In breathless tones this morning, NPR news reported the results of a new USGS survey that found incredible, huge, liberating reserves of oil and gas out West. Said the PR flak, that is, objective news reporter, this will go a long way towards President Obama’s goal of “energy independence.” Of course, we use about 18 million barrels of oil per day in the USA, and we get about 700,000 barrels of all liquids (natural gas, shale oil, some actual petroleum) from US production. The disconnect between reality and wishful thinking is fascinating to watch. That NYT article is one long disconnect, aimed at readers who are so disconnected themselves they can’t tell the difference.
And the cucumbers are twice as tall now. Really, keep up!
Your post was an interesting one, highlighting what LP (above) references as the work of PR flaks. I’ve been noticing this more and more; even formerly esteemed publications have resorted to running advertorials, such as the horrid piece that ran in the Atllantic Monthly not long ago (which I took issue with at the JBE) on the Cracker Shack (or as I call this scourge of a restaurant chain, “A Crack in my Ass!”).
Interestingly, I was paralleling your musings, ruminating on how to craft a balanced life.
You can never go wrong by referencing the late Edward Abbey. Discovering his books (courtesy of another great American writer, and contrarian, Wendell Berry) was a joy and while sadly, he’s no longer with us, he provides a model of how to live a life that runs counter to gadgets and other “enhancements” that are always being pushed upon us as ways to “improve” our lives, yet leave us short of cash and poor in spirit.
Glad to see that the JAB hasn’t resorted to advertorials in place of quality, pertinent content, generated by a human being with dirt under her nails.
Thank you both for insightful comments that add to the texture of the blog.
“Ruminating” would be a good word for the inhumanity of our modern lives. Must everything be commoditized? Some of these ruminations are based on James Howard Kunstler’s question “Why is America so BLEEP’ing Ugly?” and trying to find true beauty somewhere beyond the vacant commercial real estate of suburbia.