Rage against the darkness

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Breathe, just breathe.

The year metaphorically ended for me on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The first killing frost in my garden. I essentially have two hobbies: In the late spring, summer and early fall, I like to garden. In the late fall and winter, I like to construct things out of steel.

Many of you know I’m a vegetable guy. This fall, I’ve been taking the Master Gardener class through the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Three hours on Tuesday and Wednesday plus 45 minutes either direction to Carson City. By the time you read this, I’ll have only one more class session, and then 46 hours of volunteering to complete before I have the title, Master Gardener. But nobody will have to call me Master.

I was trying to explain something to one of our interns, Ben Garrido, who’s naturally a pretty smart guy. “Ben,” I said, “nothing in life is only what it appears. Life is art, and the only thing that matters is where what’s superficially in front of you takes you.” I think of gardens this way. Gardens are humanity’s weak attempt to control the environment. There’s never a time when a plant or a fruit or a flower is what it is: The thing in front of your eyes always represents growth, food or sex. Sometimes, you turn a corner and that tree that you thought you knew has taken a whole new aspect, and you wonder whether the tree changed or you just never knew it at all.

Gardens make me think. Steel is just the opposite—that is, it’s the opposite when I’m actually bringing my plan from the abstract to the concrete. Six thousand degrees, six inches from the point of my nose, a 10,000 RPM grinder that with the slightest slip will rip the flesh from my body like mist blows off the mountain. I love the heat and the flame. There is no fear. There is no thought. I’m a seed in winter.