Willy Wonka — actually Gene Wilder in the better of the two Chocolate Factory movies — sang, “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.” But is it possible to have too much imagination?
That thought occurred to me just the other day when I found myself with my head very close to a pail of moist seed starting mix – inhaling. I’m not sure what came over me. One minute, I was mixing the dry powdery combo with water – and the next, I was breathing. Deeply. Completely absorbed by the clean, fresh, earthy smell.
I admit, when I’m working outside and I’m by myself, I do get lost in my own thoughts and imaginings – and it’s more than daydreaming of what to plant and where to plant it. No, that would be too easy. My imagination, I feel, needs a diagnosis.
Like when I’m carrying my galvanized steel pail. I hear the slight squeak of the handle, and I imagine myself on a farm going about my daily chores. Or in the morning, just before the sun breaks the horizon, and I’m outside listening to the chorus of birds greeting the day. I feel as if I am in a very rural place, far from a crowded neighborhood and asphalt.
And then there was the time I weeded the courtyard area, the one with the Nikko Blue Hydrangeas surrounding a cement pillar with a vase on top. For whatever reason, I chose a cd of chants by Hildegard von Bingen as my soundtrack for the job – and that’s when it happened. The wind chimes hanging in the branches of the White Birch became the bells of the cathedral, and I was now a medieval friar tending to my garden in a corner of the abbey’s grounds.
Maybe I should be the star of my own educational Saturday morning cartoon. Little Kevin steps outside as a real boy but when his imagination starts, so too does the animation. Suddenly Kevin is an explorer charting newly discovered territories or a botanist identifying plants or a friar tending his medieval garden — all from the comfort of his yard.
So far, I’ve managed to keep the line between imagination and reality from blurring — that could be a problem. And if that weren’t enough, there is the battle against those who would like to rob us of our imaginations and keep us grounded in the gray world of real life. If it were up to them, there would never be a Candy Man!
I think imagination keeps us young and alive and creative. To paraphrase the response to Virginia’s Santa Claus letter: Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no imagination. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment. . .
My friend Cathey mailed me the postcard along with a note to plant it. When I read the small print on the back of the postcard, I learned that this was part of a fundraising effort and that wildflower seeds were embedded into the postcard. Just plant the card and add water.
A little Internet research later, I not only discovered some companies (Botanical PaperWorks, Flower Seed Paper, and Bloomin) that create these plantable postcards, invitations, gift tags, and stationery, but also directions on how to make your own seed-embedded paper.
I admit that I never had an urge to make my own paper, but now that I know that I can embed seeds in it, my mind is humming the rest of Wonka’s song: “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to do, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.”
And that is my diagnosis, as well as the diagnosis of many of the gardeners, readers, and bloggers I have met in recent months.