On a hot and humid day, the sky took on a dark blue hue as clouds carried a storm our way. Thunder rumbled as I rushed the kids into the car from our quick errand. I’d hoped we could get home before the downpour started. A cool breeze escorted us home and we ran inside just before the drops started falling.
I’m not the kind of person who gets giddy about thunderstorms. Rain dampens my spirits in the same way it dampens the ground, and my senses go on high alert with thunder and lightning as I worry about tornadoes and storm damage.
But we’re experiencing a dry spell and our fledgling garden is in serious need of a soaking rain. So I welcomed the storm, praying that it would last long enough to revive our plants and save us a day of watering.
Five minutes later, the rain had passed, and my disappointment was palpable.
We haven’t had a garden for long, but this is one way I’m growing right along with it.
Since we moved into a house with overgrown and untended landscaping, my husband has been brushing up on his pruning skills. Every now and then, he’ll head outside to trim a limb here or there on the trees in the yard. Last year, he attempted to tame the rose bushes which have taken on an interesting shape from their neglect. He snipped and trimmed and I cringed at every cut. What if we ruin them?
The good news is: we didn’t ruin them.
Last year, this yellow rose bush had two, maybe three, buds that bloomed. This year, we have a whopping seven on it!
Pruning, it seems, has a purpose and though the wait is long, the results are worth it.
I am one who does not embrace the pruning seasons of my life. The idea that I need to cut back or cut off anything is distasteful to me. I love and enjoy a lot of things and it’s hard to say “no” or “not now.” But when I try to do it all, I’m like the rose bush before it was pruned–so stretched out that I don’t have the energy to bloom. Cutting back allows me to focus my energy and produce more of the good and beautiful.
This, too, is how the garden is growing me.
These roses, they’re teaching me.
Like a cliche, I stop and smell them just because. The pink bush is more plentiful so I’ve been cutting off a few here and there and bringing them inside. The smell is almost intoxicating as it drifts through the house. I’ve never been a fan of the manufactured rose smell in perfumes, but there is nothing to compare to the scent of fresh roses throughout the house.
They are thorny and so must be handled with care, not unlike myself with my prickly edges and ability to wound. They are delicate. A strong breeze knocked all the petals off the half dozen or so we had in a vase on the dining room table and now the table and floor look like a flower girl has been through practicing for her big day. They don’t last as long once I bring them inside, preferring the wild outdoors to the confines of a vase. (I think I can relate to this.)
And they don’t all bloom at the same time.
These two in particular caught my eye the other day. I wondered if the one in the foreground was bothered by the one in the background that had already opened into fullness. I wanted to reassure it.
“It’s not your time yet, beautiful.”
Sometimes I need the same reminder.
When it looks like everyone around me is in full bloom and I’m still a closed bud, I need the assurance that it’s just not my time yet. Heck, four of these buds didn’t even exist last year.
Maybe that’s a better metaphor for me. Maybe I’m a not-yet-bud in need of more pruning.
Almost daily since we planted the garden, I walk out to the pot on the porch and pinch off a couple of leaves of basil or rosemary. I am somewhat addicted to the use of fresh herbs and the convenience of having them within walking distance.
My recipe and Pinterest searches have revolved around these two ingredients, and I’ve tried numerous new recipes including fresh basil and fresh rosemary just because I can. I even created my own tuna salad recipe using the basil and I’ve eaten it more days in a row than I’d care to admit because it’s just that good.
I’ve long believed in theory that local, fresh ingredients were better and possible, but until we planted the garden, they seemed just a good idea and not practical. Now I’m wondering how much fresh and local stuff I can buy and use this summer, spending less money on substandard food at the grocery store and more money at local farm stands. (I’m still skeptical about whether our garden is actually going to produce, oh me of little faith.)
I’m even daring to try making a jam from the berries that grow on our dogwood tree in the front yard because why not? Living off the land is not in my DNA. Or maybe it is and I just have to nurture it.
I tell people all the time about my horrific gardening skills and they laugh, saying, surely it’s not that bad. But until this summer, the only thing I’ve kept alive multiple years (not including children) is a cactus. A freaking cactus that doesn’t really care if you forget to water it. Do you see what I’m working with here?
But I’m giving it a shot. We’re watering and paying attention. I’ve been on my hands and knees in the dirt planting flower seeds and teaching the kids about waiting. I’ve dug out a flower bed and now that we have a small plot that we’ve tended, I want to keep going. To keep pulling out the weeds and turning over the soil and planting beauty where only chaos has reigned.
I’m watching the skies, praying for rain, sticking my hands in the dirt (it’s there underneath my fingernails), watering plants and working up a sweat when I could be doing anything else. And where I’ve feared failure I’m learning to let go because the fate of these plants is not all up to me. I have a part to play, yes, but there is a bigger force at work in making them grow and thrive.
I could say the same thing about me, too.
We’re growing a garden, yes, but this garden is growing me. And if we never eat a single tomato or pepper or cucumber, we will have done well.