Blame it on the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th, but I have all things “lucky” on the brain. Maybe the lurid green color associated with this holiday roped me in, or maybe it’s the pot of gold/leprechaun thing, I can’t say. There is, in fact, a cereal devoted to luck (and high fructose corn syrup), called “Lucky Charms” of which I was an ardent devotee in my youth. I had to give it up…not enough rainbow-colored marshmallows for my taste. Not even pants (or trousers, for you English folk) are luck-less in branding: "Lucky” brand jeans have “Lucky you” embroidered under the zipper. Subtle, isn’t it?
For the plant hunters among us, or at least those willing to go on hands and knees in the turf grass, finding a four-leafed clover is considered good luck. Other talismans of luck: the horse-shoe, rabbits foot, and various items of adornment such as necklaces with charm or medallion. And smelly socks, but perhaps that is lucky for sports players only. Horoscopes are filled with such prognostications as lucky days, numbers, years, and signs of all kinds. (I’m a Leo, so this year I’m going to be busy. In fact I might not be able to post once a week anymore, as I just recently learned, a minute ago in fact from the above link, that Saturn, Lord of the Underworld has sent me on a mission this year. Hooray! Time to dig out the blue tarp cape and duct tape goggles of my secret alter ego.)
Proverbs and famous quotes about luck abound. “Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.” There’s Luck o’ the Irish. Lucky in love. Luck is the idol of the idle. Or maybe you prefer Obi Wan Kenobi’s dour observation in Star Wars: “In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.” (The Irish have quite a few sayings about it, a fact uncovered in my scandalously brief research on the topic. Surely some Irish reader will share why….) And don’t we all send people off on a new adventure, whether it be the start of a sports game, wedding day, or Spelling Bee with the injunction “Good luck” or “Best of luck”? Just what does it mean for the gardener?
I myself have considered certain gardeners to be lucky: those with a large garden, a fertile garden, a high yielding, or artful garden. And even, once, in a moment of rage, those with no garden. (Don’t judge me too harshly, there was blood involved.) Everyone gardening south of zone 5 is grade-A lucky. More than 20 inches of precipitation annually: lucky. If the seasons arrive in your garden when the calendar says they should (for example, March 20 being the first day of spring), you are lucky. Ditto those living in England, where they are blessed with real garden programming, witty garden commentators galore, magazines, and scads of world-famous gardens to tour. And there is always that gardener that seems to be able to grow anything, especially that one plant you’ve tried and tried and killed and killed. It gives me comfort to call that luck.
Oddly, a recent scan of garden blogs revealed but one entry on luck. Check out Whole Life Gardening (written by C.L.): “Gardening & the School of Dumb Luck”. I found many blogs briefly mentioned luck (as in “good luck in growing/finding/getting rid of…”) but few had devoted a post to the subject. But let’s examine the other side of the gold coin, shall we?
Gleaned from my meticulous research on luck proverbs, the antonym for “luck” is “work.” My favorite definition of work, taken from bing, might be number 10: “means for energy transfer” but the others (have job, exert effort, function, be successful, work in a specific place, shape something, cultivate land, and attain particular condition) work for gardening as well. To quote a man that seemed to spout proverbs: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” So says President Thomas Jefferson. Is it any coincidence there are a dearth of garden blog posts on luck, when we take into account that gardeners are some of the hardest-working folk around?
Do you believe in luck? Or hard work? Or some amalgamation of both?