Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
Never having to lock my doors or draw my drapes has long been one of the pleasures of living out in the middle of nowhere. And one of my greatest summer pleasures, one generally unavailable to my friends in Hillcrest or West Little Rock, is trekking down to the tomato field wearing nothing but a pair of sandals and 45 SPF sunscreen. For the sheer tactile pleasure of sun on skin, there’s nothing like entering the garden the same way you entered the world.
Gardening for me is usually a solitary pursuit and gardening naked certainly keeps it that way. All the purple paint and No Trespassing signs in the world won’t stop an unwelcome visitor faster than a 54-year-old man displaying all the physical disadvantages of his age and love of bourbon, gardening naked in his side yard. And you never have to apologize because they are gone before you know it.
I think gardening naked offers much to the biblically minded. Occasionally my mate joins me on a particularly pretty day and there we are, Adam and Eve, out there in the garden with the snakes. If they had re-enactors for the book of Genesis, we’d have a new hobby.
Gardening has this undeserved, old guy, cap and overalls image that gardening naked does much to dispel. Gardening is all about random sex, miscegenation and warm, moist nights. The garden swings. Come July it’s just one big toga party down there. The Silver Queen is hooking up with the field corn, squash bugs are stuck together and I don’t even want to tell you what the praying mantises are doing. The sex and violence on cable television don’t begin to compete with what goes on in my garden.
I have found that Keb’Mo’ is the best garden-naked music. The blues in general, and Keb’Mo’ in particular, will have you struttin’ through the sweet corn like Mick Jagger. Just as Romas are better for sauces, Keb’Mo’ is better for gardening naked. Not long ago I was hoeing a planting furrow for some Nickel fillet beans when Keb’Mo’ came over my outdoor speakers for the first time. Next thing I know it was just me and my gooseneck hoe, high stepping between the Yukon Gold potatoes and the Kentucky Wonder pole beans.
Only gardeners with common sense should ever attempt to garden naked. Editor Brantley asked me if I pruned rose bushes in a natural state. Just asking such a question indicates that Editor Brantley should never garden naked. Never pick blackberries either while gardening naked. Do not prune out the dead fruiting canes from your raspberries. And for heaven’s sake, stay out of the seed ticks.
Alan Leveritt, whose garden patch is well-hidden behind a stand of cypress trees, is a newspaper publisher.
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