So I kept reading, and I kept gardening, and I came to Wendell Berry, who became an important resource. Berry had gone through the same frustrations as a farmer that I'd faced in my little plot of land. He learned that farmers, by necessity, must take a less utopian view of nature. If Thoreau and Emerson tell you to back off and admire whatever happens, Berry says you have a legitimate quarrel with nature when it comes to weeds and pests. He's willing to intervene in a way that most American nature writers are not. Berry's argument for active, humane stewardship of land struck me as a value system I could use. I'd learned a set of values from Thoreau in the library, but it was only when I tested them—in the crucible of an actual garden with actual pests on an actual patch of land—that I was able to form my values more fully.