I always say that clutter on a table is like wallpaper. You set something down on a table where lots of other objects are left, and the newest object blends into a jumbled pattern of forms such that what you just set down simply disappears! (See tips in my earlier post, “Clutterbugs,” if this topic has resonance.)

We ended up with an early spring in the Pacific Northwest. It has been unusually dry, too, so March and April put me quickly in the dirt to get the vegetable garden underway. As I plunged into forming the 2013 beds, which are inside a curvaceous, irregular fenced space, I vowed anew to create order from the blinding pattern mess of rocks, twigs, straw pieces, good dirt, clumps of dry dirt, occasional tools or pots, and tiny plants. I yearned to create the ordered beds of my dreams, where I could see everything without getting down on my hands and knees. Hopefully, I would also avoid my habit of cultivating over newly planted areas!

I observed myself recently practicing a new ritual, drawing and redrawing, with lines of small rocks and straw twigs, a curvature to highlight the location of a baby broccoli transplant, for example. Similarly, I like to use a small hand rake to snug up the straw mulch on the garlic to create a line dividing plump garlic, set in fluffy, wheat colored pillows, from the adjacent black dirt where small baby onions promise sweet Walla Wallas before too long.

This attempt to create visual order from random patterns feels very much like drawing on the ground. Ordering this mess is a slow and repetitive process, continually defining and creating form so I can keep track of what I have done, even though I never see the garden details well, or quickly. The effort quiets my mind and has become a meditation that gives me pleasure as I dream, in the early morning or late in the day, of the abundant harvest ahead.