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My husband is a contrarian. That is, he doesn’t bow to peer pressure or “go with the flow,” at least not by definition.

He’s unlikely to “do what other people are doing or agree with other people’s opinions because it is the easiest thing to do.” In that regard, he admits he’s not “laidback” or “easygoing.” Both in person and online, he pushes against prevailing forces, behaviors, norms, attitudes and trends. And he looks adversity’s winds and rains square in the face.

Unless we’re talking about Mother Nature’s winds and rains, in which case he goes with the flow.

meadow2015Today, we met with a meadow specialist to talk about landscaping here at Vanaprastha. It’s a challenge, because every area of our property is unique. There’s a meadow below the deck in front and to the side of the house, a back hillside into which the dogs and deer have carved trails, another hill at the foot of our driveway, and a stream that flows down a rocky ravine. Keith would like to dig out a small pond at the bottom of the stream where water “goes with the flow” through a pipe under the road then onto our neighbors’ properties.

“We landscapers have to be careful when we use the term ‘native’ to describe plants,” the meadow specialist said. “Ferns are native but grow where they want to grow, not necessarily where we would like them to grow.” Keith and I nodded. Ferns like the area on the other side of the ravine but few grow on the house side.

“You can plant mountain laurel, but buy the smallest size and expect about 25% to fail.” We nodded again. That had been our experience when we planted the steep slope below the upper driveway. “And when you see ‘native to the southeast,’ it probably won’t grow here. On land like this, you kind of have to go with the flow.”

The origin of this expression seems unknown. One site suggested it came out of the late 90s, perhaps as a commentary on those historical times, and gained popularity because of its rhyme. Others guessed Shakespeare – a safe bet – and his reference to the ebb and flow of tides.

However the phrase came into fashion, living here amidst the mountain’s various ecologies we’re good with nature’s ebbs and flows. But if you want to know how my husband thinks about anything else, check out the Wall Street Journal Blog site. He’s got over 1000 ‘recommends’ so far this year.

Apparently some folks go with his contrary flow.

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