At PsychoBOTANICA, more than 35 people completed our “gumball” questionnaire: they began by choosing 7 words from a page of words (from the Biotic Portal index, A-F), then used those words to answer 7 questions about their affiliation with nature, counted the points allotted to each answer and checked their gumball—our improvised list of nature affiliations (playful, wildlife protector, activist, dreamer/activist, primordialist) inspired by E. O. Wilson’s study of biophilic relations in his Biophilia Hypothosis. Participants picked up a button that matched their affiliation, and some answered our question about their first memory of a garden. Here are their answers, preceded by the 7 words they chose.
Aberration/airflow/barn owl boxes/cheese sandwiches/damask rose/Dutchman’s pipevine/first memory of a garden: Rusty metal staircase. The smell of pigeon shit and fig leaves. Rot.
Asters/bees/blue/ chaos/cork oak/dawn/fire: My grandfather’s garden —marigolds, tomatoes, cucumbers, grass. On my hands and knees, lowing like a cow, eating grass, trying to find a four-leaf clover. Never did.
Arrow bamboo/bats/blue/borrowed views/chain fern/dispersal/eye-to-eye: Eating too many raw green beans and sitting under vine holding tummy. Then walking home on red cinder road. — Diana
Arcadia/bees/California fuchsia/creek/elephants in the room/endangered/feral: Running through a gorgeous green English garden with my sister, pretending to be fairies. She had a natural trilling whistle, the perfect fairy sound. —Liz
Arousal/belly plants/California sagebrush/dirty finger jobs/ecstatic/euphorbia/feral: An expanse of dicondra, room to run and roll and stand on my head and clamber over railroad ties and under agaves and between scotch broom (smell them) and up a eucalyptus tree and feel it sway with me. —Rebecca
Arcadia/bats/birds/chaos/death/documented/effusion: Watching snails in calla lilies, putting them in a box, watching them escape. Climbing an oak tree. — Sandra
Agency/arousal/beavertail cacti/charisma/conifer posers/dirty finger jobs/ecopsycology: My mother’s wonderful vegetable garden—yum! Dean
Barn owl boxes/bobcats/buds/cultivated/flower parts/experience/food: Pleasured myself on an orchid. —Eytan.
Anxiety/arrow/blue/chain fern/Christian names/cupcakes/flower parts: My grandmother’s gardens, running barefoot, pussy willows, rinsing dirty feet under spigot, eating tomatoes, identifying weeds, collecting stones, up before sunrise, suddenly pink and hungry, outside but alone.