Christine Schoefer: Sitting in the Garden

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

In her garden, Christine Schoefer finds truth in the old saying ‘What you see depends on where you sit.’

Before I started gardening, I loved visiting my friends’ floral sanctuaries. Sitting in a lounge chair, I’d let colors and scents wash over me. I saw only the blooms, the blossoms, the delightfully shaped vegetables.

I’m a big city person, raised among brick and concrete, so it took me many years to believe that I, too, could learn to garden. I started with “can’t fail” flowers like daffodils and nasturtium. Gradually, I entered more deeply into nature’s vast repertoire. This summer, I’m tending lilies and sunflowers, roses and poppies, carrots and parsley. And I’ve noticed a strange shift in my way of seeing.

In my own garden, all I see is work: intrusive branches, wilting leaves, weeds, snails. Instead of sitting down to the pleasure of gazing and sniffing, I’m either standing or squatting: pruning, clearing, watering. Snip, snip. Looking around as I rub my achy back, I make a to-do list for the next day. Even on my walks along Berkeley streets, I pluck foxtails and pinch off dead roses.

Fully committed to tending, I no longer visit plants for idle enjoyment. Gardening work pulls me into a different kind of satisfaction. Especially the harvesting: cutting off lettuce leaves, pulling up onions, digging for potatoes.


It’s always the raspberries that make me happiest: some displaying boldly, others hiding under downy leaves, all of them bursts of sweetness. Whether I pluck the berries in the morning or at dusk or by the light of the full moon, it’s always a labor of love. The line between work and pleasure disappears.

And yet, I’ve decided to get a comfortable chair so I can quietly savor all those hues and designs and perfumes, at least for a little while, every day.

With a Perspective, this is Christine Schoefer.

Christine Schoefer is a writer and educator.