Midweek @ Musings: On men who read and garden

It’s everywhere else in the news this week, so let’s start with an Infographic of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, which includes this commentary:

But the most alarming stat is at the bottom of this graphic, which comes courtesy of GDS Digital. If the oil well causing the spill isn’t plugged in 50 days, it will overtake Exxon Valdez as the largest oil spill in U.S. history. What the graphic doesn’t mention is that the oil rig causing the spill originally sank on April 20th–meaning that we’re already 15 days in, while capping the well might take up to 90 days. Not to mention what happens if the well-head goes completely belly up–in that case, the spillage rate will increase many fold.

This is such a horrible disaster, there’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said.  I’m glad that a team from Tri-State Bird Rescue is now in the region to help with cleanup and rehabilitation of oiled birds.  I’ve been a volunteer at Tri-State, although I cared for birds in the clinic and never trained in oil spill response.  Fingers crossed that they will be able to make a positive impact on the wildlife there.

Debunking a stereotype! This annoying blog post claims to be about the Orange Prize, but the author went off on a tangent about male and female readers.  I got a little riled up by it and posted a comment.  I really wasn’t sure what point he was trying to make:  Men don’t read, so the Orange Prize is irrelevant? Everyone’s reading less?  Who knows.  But then today I came across an article by Jason Pinter at the Huffington Post, about why men don’t read.  Pinter blames the publishing industry and advertising.  It made me think, which is more than I can say for that other blog post.  I thought about the primary male reader in my life — a man who has read all seven volumes of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and is working his way through a multi-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson.  He enjoys watching BookTV on C-SPAN (what could be better than 48 hours of nonfiction books, interspersed with baseball for variety?)  His tastes are way outside the male norm of trashy spy novels.  I have no idea how he finds reading material but it can’t be from advertising!  What do you think?  Is the publishing industry to blame for the dearth of male readers, or do you have a different theory?

Side Benefits of Gardening My vegetable garden is in full swing now, with peas and lettuce peeking up from the earth and many other crops quietly germinating below ground.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of tending my garden; Chris and I usually head out there early on a Saturday morning and put in a couple of hours planting, weeding, and so on.  Sometimes we do that on Sunday, too.  But there’s another garden we’re tending at the same time: our relationship.  Some of our best conversations have occurred while we’re swinging a hoe or pulling up weeds.  We work through issues like, how much freedom do we give our older daughter, who recently got her driver’s license?  How can we help her choose a university?  How do we support our younger daughter, who will soon enter high school? And we think about our own future, 5 years or so from now, when both of our kids have left home for university and/or adult life.  We ruminate on our shared experiences over 27 years of marriage, and how that informs our ideas of what “retirement” might be like for us.

Somehow these conversations don’t happen as easily, nor as often, when we are indoors doing the laundry and whatever else requires our attention on Saturdays.  And when we’re out in the garden, we can disagree without getting upset.  It’s really an amazing thing — like therapy, only free.  And you get food, too!  I’ve spent years worrying that we don’t get out enough for “grown up time.”  It’s funny how the best moments in a relationship can happen in times and places where you least expect it.

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3 thoughts on “Midweek @ Musings: On men who read and garden

  1. “They’ve been alienated for a long time and might need to be roused from their slumber.” Men alienated by the publishing industry?! I don’t know enough about this columnist to comment intelligently on his outlook specifically, but in a general sense this kind of comment reminds me of the kind of headline that appears in the newspapers after an awards show, suggesting that women are taking over Hollywood because a single female director has appeared on the scene. ::grin::

    • Hmmm … now that’s an interesting POV. I have to admit, I literally came across the article yesterday and didn’t spend hours & hours digesting it. I just found it thought-provoking and plausible and thought I’d toss it out there to see what others thought of it. Thanks!

  2. I don’t think it has to do with advertising. I think that advertising would work the other way around, and if adds are more “feminine” it’s because people expect women to read more?

    However, I think that if it is true that men read less (I never saw any statistics, but I’m guessing from what I see around me that women read more) it has to do with it being a social construct that reading is a more feminine activity.

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