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Nurturing Garden Blues

Estaban Gardens book cover

Mom would have loved my back yard garden once it had developed after the first few seasons.  She would have enjoyed the maturity of the trees and the scattered perennial shrubs.  Blue was her favorite color, so the lobelia that I’d dappled here and there to offset the varied pinks and orange hues would have pleased her very much, as it well should since I’d planted it especially with her in mind.

So, too, the Star of Israel blooms that appeared just in time for the Fourth of July every year.  It was no coincidence that all of my plants yielded blue flowers.  Agapanthus plants, the correct name for the Star of Israel, were indeed survivors; the blossomed “star” bursts of white or blue were used frequently in California as commercial landscaping flora and in highway dividers.  They were my kind of plant; nearly indestructible!

I can’t tell you how often over the years I had read “easy to grow” and believed it!  Perhaps it was because Mom could always keep things growing, no matter how delicate the plant; she could revive any greenery in her keeping.  She had houseplants that were older than some of her grandchildren!  Each plant had a story and held a memory of someone or someplace.

On the other hand, delicate looking vines didn’t grow very well under my care. An “easy to grow” clematis struggled for its survival and, much to my chagrin, the vine very soon after planting looked like it needed a transfusion.  I decided after a few months’ efforts that it was really begging for mercy, so I dug it up and disposed of it.

One of my favorite sayings among garden prose is the one that reads,

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

than anywhere else on earth

Nurturing an appreciation for flowers and gardens was one of the pleasures Mom and I shared.  Refilling our vessels as we did our favorite vases, His grace seemed to quell our anxious souls on many occasions, allowing us just to be.  Within the presence of God’s mixed bouquets, my mother remains joyfully alongside me.

 

Groundhog Grief

I can’t explain the depression and the grief that imprint upon my heart an underlying ache; at least, not very succinctly.  A friend tells me that I have several good reasons that would give anyone cause to sulk or weep.  If she says so, okay.

But I can’t stand far enough away to see; my eyes are blinded by the blur surrounding me.  In fact, it is one very huge blur.  The smaller, individual components are no longer identifiable; nor are yesterday’s priorities.  Today, it is enough that I recognize the colors around me for what they are:  a kaleidoscope of unbelievably deep, jewel tones representing an emotional whirlpool.  As in a dream, I can’t find my way around or out.

Crying would be great.  I know I want to cry but don’t ask me to explain why.  Just believe me when I tell you I know. Yes, I know.  But I can’t; and won’t. My rules won’t let me.

I think I’m crashing, so as I have done after any big crisis, my inner voice is giving me permission to quietly crash.  Emphasis is on quietly, which in my rules really means to not draw attention to oneself.  Remember, others have far greater mountains to climb…

Thus far, all I can voice is a meek “Help.”  I hear it repeatedly come from my lips, even in the middle of a simple task…”Help.” And when someone within earshot wants to know what I need help with, I can’t answer.  It is enough consolation that I can still be heard…or will be heard…should I ever need to be heard.

What do I physically need?  Nothing; I have the blessings of a warm home within which a pantry and the makings of a great meal are there in easy reach.  I have clean clothes, a myriad of colorful pins and scarves from which to choose a rainbow of combinations; I can fake style as well as anyone!  I have family and friends who care about me.  My health is generally good.

Straighten up!  What is wrong with you?  Go outside and find something to do.  The messages of old still ring out, but the choices are old, too.  So, I choose to stay inside, away from brighter sun rays that might uncover my quiet despair beneath a carefully honed smile.

It is better that I adjust my focus solely on good things.  I shall begin.

I begin by methodically reminding myself that loved ones are on the mend; that good friends are seeking treatment and under care; and, while I’ve not a song in my heart yet again, the melody will eventually return to draft an entirely new chorus of praise and gratitude for His gifts.  Remembering what a good person is supposed to do when facing any veil of tears, I put myself on autopilot.

I smile. I joke. I laugh and see the irony in the mundane.  I am grateful for lots of things; especially today, I am grateful I am not a groundhog, surrounded by funny old men in top hats and tails, disturbing my real quest for another beginning, another spring…

 

 

We’ve Each A Place

By what authority proclaimed, by what process or fair measure?

Removing living things deemed irritants…are they not also treasures?

Even seedlings have intrinsic beauty, some small redeeming grace.

Might I not display the buds upon my finest lace?

 

Dear Lord, who’s eye has deemed them such, to reach but never grow?

Should I weed a few, toss them aside, implying that I see

Why I should pull them from the soil – to never fully glow?

And pretend I understand the stewardship you’ve offered me?

 

To cast them out from Your green earth, I’ve found no meaning in this toil.

As gardener I shall choose to find a safe and sandy rest.

Perhaps a place You’d once designed lies hidden in the soil

Let rains renew old garden seeds to proudly sprout their best!

 

 

POPPIES ‘GAINST THE FENCE

A morning not unlike before; except, that March day, I chose to sit

And in the sun clothe soul and mind amid the warmth before it quit.

My child was safe in school that day, her father having left for work;

So few quiet moments came those years wherein I enjoyed a welcome quirk.


From time to time, I glanced to see the seeds I’d sown before the spring.

Now, poppies ‘gainst the fence did bloom; their grey-green leaves held bright orange bling!

Returning to my book, I reread a line or two, but growing satisfaction brought me ‘round

Back to the poppies’ brilliant hue! Ah…my eyes drank in each colored mound.


The news was brief; enough to break my solitary, peace-filled morn.

Our president had been shot. Again, a sordid mind our country torn.

More details came to further invade my peaceful place; in seconds, my repose fled.

Instead, the poppies ‘gainst the fence foretold to me a poignant dread.


I blinked back tears…please, please let me hold the morning’s warmth still cross my feet!

Beneath my chair the soaked-in sun released its ebbing, remnant heat.

Seasons passed. Our leader lived. The Cold War ended in mere peaceful pretense.

My daughter grown, I’d moved on too. I left those poppies ‘gainst the fence.


Another yard, a new bedding plan; again a chance to sow and till,

Leaving history’s sadder days behind so new buds might stave off current ills.

Today, I seek comforting bling.  My heart cries for its familiar sense!

Elusive still but, now and then, repose returns from seeded poppies ‘gainst the fence.

 


TRIBUTE – 100th Anniversary Year of Ronald Reagan’s Birth.

When Life is Good Enough

A walk to the mailbox yields an extra envelope inside; this one not a bill! The card is a funny one; a sort of vicarious life-is-good thrill, for this time, my friend’s message tells me that her life has turned around again.  The Thanks So Much is underlined because of the quick emails I sent along with my almost-as-quickly-crafted prayers; I thank God for filling in the blanks so that I could send my short messages when she needed some encouragement.

 

I haven’t had to experience watching a son go off to war; so, when the phone rings later that evening, and the good news is that a friend’s son has safely returned home from the front lines, I take note.  The many months he spent knowing he was in harm’s way is something that as a parent I can only imagine; reading history and watching old Victory at Sea newsreels doesn’t begin to simulate the same experience.

 

Another day’s work has finally ended; the clock permits me to stop and call it a day.  I used to arrive home with a paycheck in my pocket; today, my answers to prayer are what make the hearth seem even warmer than before; perhaps it will be a popcorn night?  A few moments of reverie in the garden before starting dinner are allowed tonight; even the knockout roses are still blooming to full capacity!  There is not an empty branch in sight.

 

I’m beginning to understand my father’s tendency to settle for what he repeatedly described as good enough. It has taken me years to believe that an inner sense of peace can be mine more often; I need only see and hear with a grateful heart.  There are gifts of solace and joy when life is good enough!

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine Mirth

For innocents awake to Friendship’s arms

Hearts are not just for February days

They are a bit of make-believe

To soothe winter’s uncaring ways

 

A bit of mulch, clay pots, will toy

Violets and lavender bouquets scent

To quiet inlets of a gardener’s soul

And ease a snowy discontent

 

Some wayward bulbs may yet instead

Break forth through frozen ground

Bare branches stretching out their souls

Refuse to hide! Small buds abound

 

The spring will once again infuse

The garden’s air with sentiment

So hearts ‘mid greens again amuse

Worn, loving hands only slightly bent

Seeing Through the Frost

So, I walk within my garden; it is cold; and I am chilled!

I’ve still earth, but seek a memory of the birds’ last summer trill.

I’ve an old tree standing there.  Will I once more see it leaf?

The surrounding ground seems spent; I am filled with winter’s grief.

 

I suppose should I just wander past, and clean the pathways here,

I could wake one morn to Spring!   The sun would melt away my fear.

You have left me but a plot of land.  What have I to gain from toil?

It’s then I grasp your guiding words:   what I sow will grace the soil!