by Rachel Creager Ireland
Hello world. I’m Veronica Speedwell. I live here at the Caryatids community, a wonderful place where people can still live in tune with the natural world. I’ve been here all my life, and now am the head gardener. I can’t think of a job I’d rather have.
I have a story for you. As a child, I knew a woman who saw fairies. She often spoke of them, and of other beings, of their various personalities and the things they did. She had conversations with animals and devas. She was a beekeeper, and always claimed to know the feelings of the bees in the hives. I didn’t take her seriously, though I did attend to her teachings about growing plants. She had the most lush, abundant garden, which fed so many people to such satisfaction. I would have loved to have her gift for growing things, but cared not a bit for her fanciful talk of the intimate lives of every living creature, of countless invisible entities, and of things which were real but had never been alive, such as the rocky hills we lived in, the soil spread like a blanket over it, the granite mountains buried deep below.
One day my teacher sent me to gather some basil from the herb garden. When I came to her with my hands full of the piquant greens, instead of taking them from me, she instructed me to hold them and ask them how they would like me to prepare them for eating. It was a strange and uncomfortable question, because naturally if I were asked that question, I doubt I’d reply in friendly terms. Nevertheless, I posed the question, feeling quite silly, to the freshly picked, deep green plants.
The answer came not to the question I’d asked, but to the one I hadn’t. The answer was a feeling, as all-embracing as the aroma of the basil itself, a feeling of complete and joyful willingness to give “itself” to my nourishment. The feeling was so strong as to be undeniable. I stood there inhaling the luscious fragrance, and inhaling with my soul the fragrance of ego-less, limitless giving. It was so pure that it could only be honored by partaking of the herb. Had this awareness and desire been present all along, and I never noticed it? How could it be? I was speechless, enraptured.
And thus began my love affair with plants.