Our Vegetable Love

Next week we might remind ourselves that love is not rocket science. No, it’s way more difficult. Albert Einstein put the question, “How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?” We are still waiting for his answer.

I would imagine, should one gaze into the brain of a rocket scientist, on display would be a highly functioning organ, operating optimally, neurons synchronously firing away, circuits lit up—the Rockettes, if you will. But when we embark on love, our brain’s physiology runs amok, leaving a trail of wine, chocolate, flowers and broken hearts. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Considerable research has been done on the neurophysiology of love. The findings convey a colorful, if disquieting, notion of love’s effects on our brains. Love doesn’t come plastered with a warning label, which is a shame: it would make engaging reading.

The passion of first love sends our bodies and brains into overdrive, replete with racing hearts, sweaty palms and flushed cheeks. Our euphoria reflects the boosted blood flow in the brain’s pleasure centers, the region where drug addiction takes root. Our minds, transfixed on our beloved, trigger a dip in the brain’s serotonin level, symptomatic of those afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Love of a less tumultuous kind takes hold after passion. Romantic love keeps the passion’s spark and chemistry, but is more balanced and sustainable. The brain’s pleasure center still lights up, but the light is not blinding, nor the love blind.

In romantic love, there is mutual affection and respect, shared pleasures, interests and life goals built for 2. With marriage, the ardent lovers transform into devoted partners and parents, the once white-flames of passion give way to a contented glow of nurturing, managing, planning, dance performances and soccer games. The fire? Flickering in the outdoor grill. As Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack beautifully ask, “Where Is The Love?”

How to rekindle the fires of romance? Not long ago Sherwin-Williams, the paint company, suggested couples might rediscover their romance by, yes, painting together. Wives and husbands, they had learned, split home improvement tasks into two types: his and hers. The company presented home painting projects as a way for couples to reconnect, share some laughs, enhance their home and sense of shared achievement.

Our company, Burpee, using focus groups, found a similar divide when it comes to gardening. “She grows it and I eat it,” and “He grows it and I cook it,” were common refrains. Paradise Lost! Romance stops at the garden gate-precisely where it should begin.

Research demonstrates that when couples share the unpaid responsibilities of the home, the happier they are. I can think of no better place to work as a team than the garden, the home’s true “living room”.

Gardening allows couples to engage in multiple ways. They plan, ready, and lovingly tend their garden. They contend with weather, and a colorful mix of challenges, mishaps, surprises, disappointments and triumphs. Together they admire, harvest and dine on the results. Can’t do that with your laptops or iPhones.

The garden becomes a collective work of imagination. A few steps into your backyard and you’re there: your own spa-theatre-dreamscape-ashram-sensorium-cathedral-oasis-refuge-herbarium-cabinet of wonders. Your joint labor of love is a place of meditation, exercise, natural marvels, spectacle, aesthetic beauty, fragrance and color.

Another thing. The garden is a veritable Shangri-la of romance. Ask any passing bee, dragonfly, butterfly or hummingbird. Want Einstein’s answer? Look out your back door. Love is in the air.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 8:59 am and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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16 Responses to “Our Vegetable Love”

  1. hydroponics said:

    I really love gardening.I am glad you posted an information regarding it. Actually i am really looking for some data about gardening.

  2. Donna said:

    What a wonderful surprise, such a great way to quote Andrew Marvell 🙂 It made me laugh.

    I’ll try again to get my husband into the garden.

  3. Father Martin Cioppi said:

    George, I think you are on to something insightful. Within the interconnectedness of nature with human life, a profound spirituality exists. When a person engages the cosmos and its movement he/she can encounter the world as ‘coupled.’ If I can encounter the reality of my life within the context of nature rather than technology, I can indeed reconnect with the organic roots of my potential personhood; a real spousal communion can occur. The silence of the earth and the world of the planets, of the stars, of plants and of animals and other human beings are certainly worth our meditation because it will lead to so many other deeper realities within and outside of our corporeality.

    Within the reality of love, one sees the establishment of a ‘home’ wherein loves dwells and of the ‘hearth’ where things like security, warmth, nourishment, encouragement, humor and learning are its fruits.

    I think that human persons are innately communal, therefore other centered. Human interplay with the world can only result in a deepening integration with the cosmos. It can also foster further development of human progress that should always interrelated and codependent, yet always striving to be free in order to advance toward the perfect person.

    Teilhard de Chardin did some wonderful work with his sense of the Cosmic Christ. You have inspired to look again at Chardin and better my gardening skills to see where I ‘fit in!’

  4. alda stich said:

    I have been doing Wedding flowers in Maine for almost thirty years with over 1000 happy Brides. For those who have never seen “Love” Maine style, you might enjoy clicking on 2009 photos :). With best wishes to all, Alda Stich

  5. You mean you think I should allow someone else in my garden? Someone with other ideas and opinions? Someone I love? Someone that excites me as much as the garden itself? Someone that takes an interest in my passion and knowledge of gardening and plants? Someone that cares about the plants well-being and garden design as much as I do?

    As you can see, my comment went from negative to positive… At first, I shriek to think to think about someone else in my garden. But, just as gardening is great therapy for oneself, it is also great therapy for relationships. Sometimes we need all the help we can get!


  6. Wanda said:

    George, you are so wise. Shared tasks like cooking and gardening make the work go twice as fast. And the rewards are twice as bountiful.
    The “dirty” work of gardening and cooking promote the pleasures of a beautiful garden and a delicious meal.

  7. Ray Pirrello said:

    Sir, Happy Valentine’s Day to you. The absence of recent web logs from you raised concerns that you might be sick or in some way incapacitated. Your recent post of February 3 was a welcomed sight. We appreciate the effort that you and your company are making to the gardening community and hope that you will be participating in the 2010 Open Days program.

  8. Mary said:

    What a delightful paeon to the riches of gardening a deux. I have a husband I love but not a fellow gardener. I used to garden with my father, and though the love was filial, it was shared passionately in the joy of vegetable gardening.

    Thanks for this.

  9. Helen said:

    How well you have described our(my husband and I) mutual love of gardening. Both of us having grown up on Wisconsin farms, we have most always been able to have a garden during our married life (47 years now). Being retired we are still able to garden and have not so much vegetable as before but do have several flower and shrub growing areas on our small corner lot. Thanks for the message that helped to identify this long standing mutual interest. Helen

  10. Karen said:

    I loved this article. You have a very nice turn of phrase. I agree, love is in the air. Being a widow now, I find love is so much more than just in the air, it’s me being on my knees with my hands deep in rich soil.

  11. Jeanne Judd said:

    What to do with all this romance in the garden.
    I need some special counseling since I am all married and happy and I just accepted a huge pea patch plot in my little city, Normandy Park.

    Should I return home from my new garden with that drifty, distracted look of one infatuated? My lust will certainly be for the dahlias, and sapliglopsis, salpigosis, I can’t even spell his name! So distracted.

  12. Pierre Kaufke said:

    How well said! Should be in poster form in all so-called “marriage counselors'” offices.

  13. Barbara Tiffany said:

    Oh, George! You are adorable! and I love what you write!!
    Warmest regards on this snowy day–
    Barbara Tiffany
    Point Pleasant, PA

  14. ann million said:

    Well, Love started in Eden and I have thought , for some time now, that gardening is an attempt to gain back Eden. There is definitely a strong connection ‘tween love and the garden.

  15. Rhoda said:

    There is absolutely nothing like picking pole beans in the early morning with me on one side and my husband on the other. We catch up on all the gossip, make plans for the rest of the day, and laughingly point out all the beans the other missed. This has to be one of my favorite parts of gardening.

  16. Liz said:

    Thank you for a completely delightful essay! It offers joy, a twinkle in the eye, and a promise of things to come. I actually had to glance at the calendar to confirm how many days left until the first day of spring AND glance out of the window to smile at gorgeous sun and blue sky – and, in Ohio on a February day, that’s saying something!

    Love to garden, love your catalog & website – can’t wait for warmer days! My thanks — !

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