ISSUE #60: Ugly

Ugliness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. One woman’s prized rhododendron is another’s horrid weed. The pursuit of beauty and evasion of ugliness is an essential part of being human. But what does it mean? Who says what is ugly and what isn’t? Can something be so ugly it’s beautiful? How do plants play into this dialogue? So many ways of seeing, so many questions.

This month we’re rambling around the world, thinking about beauty and thinking about ugliness. We’re airing our dirty laundry, we’re celebrating the unkempt beauty of the suburbs, we’re driving around LA looking at plants, we’re investigating the ugly side of gardening, we’re eating weeds and much more.

Ugliness is just a state of mind. Beauty is everywhere if we choose to see it, as is ugliness. It’s about ways of seeing rather than objective facts. It’s about the frame, not the painting within it. As Annie Dillard writes in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” I want to be there. And I encourage you to join me.

Yours deciduously,