Thursday, January 05, 2006

stop the flogging

Blaming the Boomers
It's not a new thing. I just thought that old horse had already been beaten down and we had moved on. I was wrong.

Anne Raver, the garden writer for the New York Times, wrote this morning one of those stories that feels like a concept looking for quotes to back it up (Baby Boomers, Digging Ben-Gay).

She says that babyboomers who had taken a fierce liking to gardening were now backing down, pulling out the perennials, putting in the roses that never need tending. She comes to this conclusion because nursery & garden related sales peaked in 2002, and are now declining. The work is too hard. We're too busy. We've got too many aches and pains. Blah-blah-blah.

Alas. Having been born 8 years into the babyboom wave after World War II, I've never felt that much of a boomer or that being born within that period shaped who I was or what I was interested in. But I grew up in the wake of it being a big (and easy) target, and figured out fairly quickly that every social problem seemed to be linked to BBs, even indirectly. In the 1960s and 1970s, we -- they -- were blamed for almost everything by our elders.

And then in the 1980s, there came the BB backlash from those younger than us. Our music was lingering too long in dominating what radio stations played on the air. We became yuppies, folk which Newsweek once defined as people who have an incredibly and extensive collection of cooking utensils, but never use them because we are always eating at interesting and out of the way small restaurants. We were going to beat aging and stay young and healthy, creating a boom in cosmetic surgery and extreme sports particiation. And now, gardening. Didn't know that one.

References to BBs had slowed down until President Bush started his program to change Social Security -- aging BBs were going to bring the country down. With the first bunch turning 60 this year, it's again BB this and BB that.

As if
And we're getting too old to garden.

According to Anne Raver of the New York Times.

Partner's grandmother, a passionate gardener, reached a point where she could not bend over to weed, so she would lie prostrate on the ground to do her weeding. She lived alone until she was in her late 90s. Had a fabulous garden. She is now 102 and in assisted living. Great genes, but I like to think part of her longevity is because she was a gardener.

I have made three gardens for myself, each time requiring an incredible amount of digging, working in compost, getting rid of grass and weeds, lining beds with stone or brick. In each instance, it was about turning a front yard into a real garden. I have helped many others make their own, and at one point did some commercial work for a few clients. I am not sure how many more gardens I have in me. Yes, knees wear out. The back hurts after a day in the garden. There's pains in my hands that used to never be there.

But I don't see myself giving it up. But maybe there is an annual meeting of babyboomers who decide these things. I never get the invitation to attend them.

Lost Generation
A few years ago, I realized that all the old people I knew as a child were mostly gone. That all the people that ruled the world when I was young are dead. And perhaps more seriously, that the folks of my parents generation, who lived through the depression and the war are passing on. Their stories, their quirks, their interests now live in my memory. I never thought to keep track of them as a group, nor plot their development decade by decade. They just were. And I think I always thought they would be around.

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