Wednesday, September 12, 2007
How Does My Garden... Blow?
I think my garden is depressed. I'd be depressed if I looked like that. Actually, I do sorta look like that, which means that it's official: my seasonal depression has arrived with all the fanfare of a dead garden. That's why I've been so quiet. You didn't think I was still celebrating my birthday twelve days later, did you? (Though I must admit, I'm still getting gifts!)
I started the garden about two weeks after I got here. The ground was covered in red mulch, and there were these stones spaced out to decorate the mulch. I so wasn't feeling that. So, we got the mulch up and I planted hardy mums in a variety of colors--it was August, and I knew we'd get the chill in the air soon. We planted something else, I can't think of the name of it, but it looks like lavender, only it isn't. I said a little prayer over it, put my garden stone that says, "A friend loves at all times,"(Proverbs 17:17) and waited for it to get gorgeous.
Mind you, there's a lot of pride of ownership in our courtyard. Most people have flowers. Beautiful bountiful flowers exploding onto the grass. I knew our little planting was inadequate by comparison, but I figured in a few weeks they'd stretch out and fill the spaces where the other flowers I couldn't afford were supposed to be. I just had to be patient. I was inspired by Robert Benson's latest book, Digging In. I was very hopeful.
It's four weeks later, and honestly! That WRETCHED garden! I want to close my eyes and run in the house when I see it. Only I'd trip on the porch, and I'd likely be that single person who dies in that kind of freak accident because somehow, against all odds, I hit my head. Death by garden avoidance! And I could just see some of you, "She would have wanted to die running in stark terror from her own garden. She'd think that was funny." I would think that was funny, but darn it! I wouldn't want to die that way!
Do you remember Charlie Brown's Christmas tree? I've got his freakin' garden! Just look at the scraggly frail mess that I'm afraid for each time I water it, thinking the force of the water coming out of the hose might kill it even more than it's already dying.
It's AWFUL! My garden blows! It bites! It sucks! And whatever other Freudian oral fixation slang that means it looks like doo doo you can think of. Ha! "It looks like doo doo" is anal fixation slang. I'd better stop mixing my fixations.
But I digress.
So, I had a box of wildflower seeds so old they'd fossilized. Ken spread the fossils around the soil because wildflowers will grow anywhere. Right? Apparently they'll grow everywhere except my front yard! I'm beginning to think my new home is like, Final Destination for living things. I've been here a little more than a month and already we've lost three fish and the Nathan the guinea pig! And we had the nerve to get Little Peter Bun Bun, our new dwarf rabbit. And are we ever watching him carefully! It's like we're on night vigil mode 24 hours a day.
But back to the garden.
I pray for it. I grieve it, but despite it's unbearable ugliness, I still get out there and water it. Mom Burney took pity on us and gave us some red impatiens to plant in our death trap. So Ken put them in the ground and of course they immediately begin to drop and keel over. But do I tend to them anyway? I do.
Maybe my garden is an exercise in grace. Maybe it's teaching me to love even though the outcome is disappointing. It would be pretty darned easy to love a beautiful garden, but to get out there and keep tending a ragamuffin garden--well, that takes a little more soul work, and a lot more faith. But I'm a friend to my garden, and Proverbs reminds me on my garden stone, "A friend loves at all times."
I'm learning something, and it's important. I'm learning to care without conditions. And how not to be attached to a certain outcome. I'm learning to give when I'm not getting anything back. When I water that messy garden, or try to prop up a droopy impatiens or a dying hardy mum, I'm reminded of how everything dies, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on it, or forget about it in the process. Charlie Brown gardens are much like the Charlie Browns in our lives. They need love. Unconditional love. And maybe the only reward we'll get when we tend to them is the fact that we love, love being its own reward.
Now, I will say, I've seen a few brave sprouts in the past few days. I don't know if they're from a few good wildflower seeds, or what. I'm almost afraid to get too attached to them. The temps are dropping, and who knows what'll happen? But I'll tell you this, I'll certainly find out, because I'll keep showing up for my friend, the garden, making my way out there, talking to the flowers, giving them water when they're thirsty, and loving their Charlie Brown selves, no matter what. That's what love does.
peace and all good!