From nothing the begetting
From nothing the increase
From nothing the abundance.

–Origins chant of the Maori, New Zealand


The gardening life reveals many secrets about endings and beginnings and our existence in between. From December’s descent into dark (and the blankness that comes after revels and shopping sprees), Chaos arises, battles of gods and elements, the primordial stew out of which order and disorder separate while Being and not-Being unify. Across the months we reel along Nature’s rhythms from infinite to finite and back again.

I wake in the night and it is snowing again. As the wind howls, the white, obliterated garden makes me think of the first creation, reenacted year after year, Chaos making the first bubbles of beginning.

From China: “In the beginning there was Chaos. Out of it, pure light built the sky…”

From ancient Greece: “Before the ocean, or Earth, or Heaven, Nature was all alike, a shapelessness, Chaos, all ruse and lumpy matter…”

From the Tungus of Siberia: “God sent fire into the primordial ocean. In time the fire vanquished the power of water and burned part of the ocean…”

From Japan: “When Chaos began to condense, but force and form were not yet manifest, and nothing was named, who could know its shape?…”

The Hindu Rig Veda questions the origins of all things long before material life was so much as a gleam in any creators’ eyes. Buddhism speaks of the universe, like the days of the year, expanding, contracting, dissolving, then re-evolving, again and again, forever. All existence depends on this marvelous, indescribable cycle.

The Tao, the way, stands alone
never changes …
Mother of the World …
The way that can be named
is not constant.

Out of Chaos, the diverse divine adventures, the forces of Nature gradually sort themselves into mountain, ocean, valley, river. Tree, herb, shrub, grass, grain. Fish, peccary, cricket, deer, human, wolf, bird. All are part and parcel of the same Earth, none more or less.

The process of creation is accomplished many ways. Life springs from the limbs and blood of a dead god. It ascends from a god’s vomit or from the semen of a masturbating god. It is conceived by the copulation of masculine and feminine, Father Sun mating with Mother Earth. It crawls — a snake, a dragon, a worm, a spider — up from underground. It emerges from an egg at the bottom of the sea, a seed under the ground. It is trial and error, everlasting improvisation.

Mimbres potsherd.

Mimbres potsherd.

Creation accomplished, never complete. Chaos goes on, creating, re-creating. The weather will change and again change, the elements persevere as warriors in the great primeval battle. Wind combats rain, ocean combats shore. Evolution, ongoing modulation and alteration, the sacred is never static, obeys no rules.

With the creation, flora and fauna establish themselves and discover the systems by which they can survive. First attempts are the subject of folklore worldwide — how the bear lost its tail, how the bird got wings, how mountains are formed, how corn came to the people. In all these tales, and in actuality, each ife is woven with and dependent upon the other.

The snow outside my window seems to describe the cosmic dance, the universe in flux, moving toward an eventual miracle of birth, the trickle of stream that grows into a river, an infant sliding out from between its mother’s legs, a sapling, a sprout.