Sunday, June 24, 2007

Watching My Garden Grow

After we returned from Disney World, the weeds in my gardens went absolutely crazy. It was a party in the dirt, I tell you. I spent the better part of the first weekend pulling most of them, using a claw cultivator so vigorously that, over a week later, a rather large blister on my thumb is still healing. In addition, we have centipede grass in the front lawn that appears to have been quite attracted to the weeds. The two intertwined in such great strength that I might as well have been ripping up turf.

In fact, the muscles in my hand were so sore, that when I went to sign my daughter in at summer camp on Monday, the pen fell right out of my hand. My thumb and forefinger refused to work together any longer!

My sister has been sending us daily affirmations and then her thoughts to follow. One day the affirmation was: "We have a choice to plow new ground or let the weeds grow." Her thought was: "Because of weeds' pioneering spirit and heartiness, they are a good metaphor for survival in harsh times. Let's not disparage the weeds." Although I can see her point, I've become quite disenchanted with weeds after my recent experience. As I was ripping out one large clump last weekend, I couldn't help but eject the words "DIE! DIE!" and hold the drooping clump up with a cry victory. Of course, I immediately felt guilty for this. After all, they can't help that their weeds. Poor things are just looking for a new place to call home. So, I try to be a little more gentle with them. Now I say something more along the lines of "Sorry little weed, but this garden is just not the place for you..."

This weekend was the second weekend I've worked on the weeds. I pulled out all the rest of them and applied piles of mulch. In certain areas, I put down a fabric weed barrier beneath the mulch. I trimmed and shaped bushes, used Miracle-Gro and sang to my flowers (I heard that helped.) All of this in 95 degree weather.

I finished at about 3 pm this past Saturday. I popped in a frozen pizza for us (lunch is always so late on days like this) and grabbed a beer.
Then I sat. I gazed at my garden and absorbed. I watched the bumblebees intently collecting pollen from the coneflowers. I watched the stalks of golden yarrow gently swaying like lazy pendulums in the breeze, each to its own time. The butterflies fluttered around the lantana as my sunflower flag was lifted softly to the sky. I closed my eyes and heard the locusts humming in the distance, birds twittering in the rustling pine trees. It was a lovely, satisfying experience. Even as the sweat dried on my skin, dirt caked beneath my tingling fingernails, shoulders and legs exhausted, I was relaxed and blissfully happy.

As I sat and watched and listened, I was reminded of a poem:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, "Trees" (poem), 1914

Yes, gardens are hard work and require lots of attention. My mom has always been a big gardener. She would send me pictures of her garden, but I didn't really get it until I had my own. After you've dug your fingernails deep in the dirt and poured your energy, sweat and blood into it (yes, I have several thorn scars...), I'm not sure you can really understand the bliss of seeing your flowers and bushes flourish with health. When you watch the bees collect the pollen and butterflies enjoy the nectar of the flowers - when the birds create their nests and rely on the berries of the bushes - what a wonderful blessing! A visual cornucopia of treasured delights. The ultimate reward, the happiest of happy places... a garden of your own!

1 comment:

Donna Longenecker said...

Gardening is therapy to me. And yes, the ultimate reward, a happy place to be. Luv, Mom