As I wander again through the woods, the ground now covered in an inch or more of snow, I reflect upon the brief history of gardens recounted by Federico Campagna in his book Technic and Magic. The root of “paradise” arrives into Greek and Roman thought by way of ancient Persian gardens. “A Persian garden,” writes Campagna, “was a Paradeisos, to follow Xenophon’s first Greek transliteration of the original Persian term Pairidaeza” (175). For ancients, gardens functioned as living pictures of the cosmos. “This same structure surfaced again in Italy at the time of the Renaissance,” he adds, “when gardens were designed as miniature cosmoi (plural of cosmos, the universe)” (176). Let this history be a guide for our garden-making in the year ahead.
Wandering through woods, I come upon graffiti’d bits of plywood, old tires stacked into a makeshift tower, 4x4s nailed to trees. The air is cold today. A nor’easter is coming. Geese honk loudly in the air overhead. A trail in the woods leads to a field of grass and the rear of a Wegmans. I stand at the edge of the green and stare coldly at the horizon. Along it run the signs of the settlement. Cars, trucks, school buses, buildings, church spires, streetlights, power lines. American flags wave atop flagpoles — but atop power lines sit rows of birds. And with them comes the snow.
Sunlight brightens on all sides, each of us shining upon one another. Birds, bushes, cars, sirens, air units, snowmelt. Rooftops on one side of the street stand covered still in snow as birds flit in profusion amid trees. My courses encourage spontaneous participation in an ongoing dialogue. Minds come together through exercise of speech and self-organize into a class consciousness.