Dirt, in the form of soil, is easier to deal with than people. Soil and plants do not talk back, ask stupid questions, or complain about silly matters. You do not have to discuss with any plant, before sticking it in the ground, pot, or window box and you never hear complaints about its care. Of course, poor choice of location (“No, I don’t like that spot. There’s not enough sun.”) or inadequate care show up in how it thrives...or does not.
Growing up, I always lived in a house that had a yard with trees and shrubs. I do not recall many flowers, beyond a few annuals (I seem to remember irises) that arrived each year and died a natural death without needing or having any human interaction. We did have a small vegetable garden at some of the houses, but not always. Flowers did not seem to be a feature of American life. Lawns were a much a higher priority, by which one’s social status was judged. I recall spending much of my youth cutting grass.
Flowers play a larger role in German life, as well as most European countries. Because less people have houses, window boxes are a feature of many apartments. Municipalities spend tax money on beautifying city streets and parks.
Flowers have always been a feature of the house in which I live, but I did not become involved until I had lived there a few years. I discovered gardening as a means of escape. If you spend your working day discussing things with other people, often without satisfactory result, it is good to do something with your hands and be able to witness a concrete result. Many turn to alcohol or drugs; I preferred getting my hands dirty. Now that I have more time and no longer have to deal with stupid people (many sins are hidden behind this generalization), it has become a satisfying pastime, the prefect refuge for any introvert. I enjoy success, but do not become upset by failure. I try different plants in different locations each year, if something does not thrive. I waste little time on the lawn, because I have learned that grass is resilient (after an atomic blast, grass is surely the first plant to return to life).
It is interesting to observe the march of seasons through vegetation, as well as to notice minute differences in climate with slight changes in elevation, latitude, and weather pattern.
Anyone that does not appreciate nature is missing a key feature of life on this planet. But, there are some (like politicians) that like the sound of their own voice too much to notice beauty....
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.