|flowers in plastic jugs, Crete (July 2016)|
Greece, despite its ancient glories and deep influences on Western culture, has shipwrecked in modern times on the shores of German-ordered austerity measures, the overspent country still heavily in debt to the European Union and the IMF, its economy dependent in large part on tourism. In some of the old hill towns in Crete, my sister and I walked past many abandoned houses in various states of disrepair. Along the highways, new block cement structures often sat half-finished, rebar pointing raw to the sky, as if their builders had been called away on an emergency.
I was awed by the crumbling beauty of these old white-washed towns, humbled by sights of flowers planted in any readily available vessel. Yes, there were some traditional clay pots, but more often I would see bright red, yellow, orange, or pink flowers nestled in a plastic bucket or jug with the top cut off. I felt shame and regret for having purchased two new big glazed-clay pots for herbs last spring because it was not frugal, not using what I already had—definitely not in the theme of secondhand use like Crete's repurposed pots.
|flowers in rusty metal tins, Crete (July 2016)|
|shell of an old house, Crete (July 2016)|
|marigolds in broken clay pot, Crete (July 2016)|
|plant pots & blue door, Crete (July 2016)|
Crete's use-what-you-have gardening style is a lesson from the vanguard of enforced economic austerity but also a model for consciously stepping back from Western over-consumption. Not everything needs to match. Not everything must even be made of "natural," organic materials. Creative acts—even the simplest ones like reusing a plastic bucket or jug or metal tin and filling it with soil and seeds and poking a hole in the bottom for drainage—mean greater happiness. Flowers will bloom in any sunny pot.