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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

Second Nature: A Gardener's Education - Michael Pollan I came across Michael Pollan's Second Nature by accident. As I was shelving the book, a force came over me demanding that I scan the pages. I did so and placed the book on the shelf, but then, minutes later, I was compelled to pick it up again. Something attracted me. Reading an entire book about gardening, however, was not appealing so I returned it to its shelf. I am mildly interested in nature, especially when it comes to making nature more "natural". But to read a book about it? No thank you. Needless to say, by the end of the day I had book in hand and was eager to get started.In the vein the Thoreau, a much more contemporary Pollan addresses humanity's relationship with nature. He includes many personal anecdotes that are both comical and touching. He dives through the history of gardens from Europe to America to provide insight on our current perceptions of nature. With language that would rival many poets, Pollan examines the natural world we so often fail to recognize. He disputes the preconceived notion that the relationship between man and nature is irreconcilable. From the doctrine of weeds to the tyranny of the American lawn, Second Nature is filled with commentary that challenges everything we've ever known about the natural world.Written in 1991, Second Nature will likely never be one of Pollan's more popular titles. Having read The Omnivore's Dilemma, I strongly believe Pollan's gardening manifesto to be the better of the two. The Omnivore's Dilemma is great if you're looking for an exposé on the agricultural and food industries; Second Nature fills in everywhere else, being a work of ethics, history, comedy, religion, literature, and, even more than being a book about gardening, philosophy. It is even romantic, as is found in the chapter on the sexuality of roses: "the hybrid roses don’t give more bloom, really, they just parcel their blooms out over a longer period; they save and reinvest. So instead of abandoning herself to one great climax of bloom, the rose now doles out her blossoms one by one, always holding back, forever on the verge, never quite... finishing (95)."The book is conveniently divided into seasonal sections, and I do feel that Second Nature would be best enjoyed spread out over a year's time. There is much to consider, and I rather like the idea of using this book as a gardening devotional. It truly is a powerful book!