Last year a good friend gave me a pair of red leather gardening gloves that are really too beautiful to use while grubbing in the dirt. Generous as the gesture was, I am not the sort of gardener who wears gloves. I like to feel the texture and temperature of the soil. I like to sink my fingers into a nice mix of sand, bone meal and humus when I prepare a spot for recalcitrant poppies and lavendar. Though they might keep my hands and nails from being brutalised, gloves get in the way. I feel like a wuss when I wear them.
Early in the season, a hard day of sewing the abominable trees of heaven that find their way into my Nanking cherries and lilacs, makes my hands look like they belong to a wussy urban gardener. Today, after clearing beds for snow peas and sunchokes, I earned broken nails, abrasions and blisters. No matter. During my thirty some years of gardening and seven years as a metalsmith, I learnt that a certain amount of discomfort comes with the territory. Sure, there are times when I would like to be Vita Sackville-West, mistress of a bevy of hired hands in charge of grunt work. Quite often, at the jeweler's bench, I wish I were Faberge or Spratling and leave the uncomfortable tasks for minions. Somehow, I doubt that I would enjoy either gardening or silversmithing as much, I have no castle--I garden in a half acre lot. My silversmithing clients are every bit as discerning as Russianj aristocrats, but they have a smaller budget. I think that I am doing what I have always been meant to do--gardening and making jewelry my own way, gloves off, all senses on the job.