Saturday Work

Today I am working in my front-yard garden, which has gotten really out of control in the last few years due to stuff like school and work. Every now and then I get on a gardening tear and apparently I'm on one again. I just give over to it when it happens.

Most people who garden talk about how much they love digging in the dirt. There's something about the smell that says this is a place where life springs forth. But more than the digging, I love planting with the finished product in mind. I love looking at books of garden design and pushing my cart around at the garden center, stopping at a new and interesting plant and then making a bee-line for a tried-and-true one. Sometimes that "finished product" (which is never actually finished, of course) turns out like I meant for it to, and sometimes it doesn't. But it all is an exercise in imagination.

And of course, the finished product is wonderful at nearly every stage. Most wonderful of all is when I go away for a while from gardening and then come back to see how lovely things have turned out while I was not paying attention. The hellebores have now cascaded down the hill that I tried for years to figure out how to "cover." The roses have spread, too. Creeping Jenny surrounds the rocks just like I meant for it to. The little sprigs of lemon thyme now cover several feet....

There are the dead things, too. Two rose bushes just up and died last year. No warning. Naturally, now that I think about it, they were two of my absolute favorites, one a really ancient variety that smelled like my grandmother's rosewater and glycerin lotion and the other a riot of yellow blooms that climbed over the front door. Then again, like children, they are all my favorite.

I guess for me gardening is a good metaphor for living. It takes a great deal of imagination and patience, a willingness to work hard but also a willingness to let things take their own courses. It is punctuated with surprise of both the delightful and sorrowful type. Some things just don't work out as planned; other things do wonderfully without any of my "help." Many things do much better without my "help." Occasionally new plants or art or ornaments need to be introduced to keep things fresh. Sometimes bugs get in and mess things up. But over all it's delightful and real and full of beauty and surprise. And so of course, one simply must take time to stop and smell the roses, both in the garden and in life.