1. Even ugly things have their uses.
Gardeners know that you need to let the daffodils and tulips die down completely if you want them to bloom again next year. The dying leaves, though not attractive, have a purpose: they store up nutrition for the bulb. If you remove them too early, just so things look nice and tidy, you won’t get much bloom next year.
I think about this as I recover from a time of mild depression and grieving. How tempting it is to censor the sadness, to tidy it up and put it away and move on. But the process takes time and needs to complete its work to be effective. I need to believe that deep down, new life is being prepared, to burst into bloom in the spring.
2. Stuff will fill a vacuum.
Strange as it may seem, gardening is not just about tending the growing things, but also tending the empty spaces.
When we left for our camping trip, the RS cleaned up the garden to within an inch of its life. But when we returned after 10 days, the weeds had sprouted everywhere. It took a few days of hard work to get things back into shape.
Empty spaces in a garden are important – they allow air to circulate, for instance, and define borders. Empty spaces in our lives are important too, creating areas of rest and peace. But it sure is easy to fill up the empty spaces with junk – meaningless entertainment, mindless distractions and more – if we are not careful.
3. Not every seed will grow and thrive.
Our green bean plot has been a huge failure this year. We planted lots of seeds, knowing some wouldn’t sprout because they were infertile. But only a very few came up, and the cutworms got those. Many of the failed seeds were eaten by unseen predators of the buggy kind who live underground, doing their nasty work in the dark.
When I look around at my art projects, or any creative work I’ve done, I realize that much that was begun in hope and anticipation never did bear fruit. This is a hard lesson to bear. I wish everything in life had a happy ending. Not so. I do believe that nothing is wasted -- just as in the garden the cutworms and sow bugs grow from our generosity, I too grow and learn from the aborted projects that are in my closet.
There’s still time this summer to plant a bean patch in a different spot. Perhaps at the end of the summer I’ll be able to post a photo of a pot of beans. Or maybe not. That’s life.
4. Unexpected guests can add a great deal of beauty and delight to life. (But you have to let them in the door.)
|The sunflowers (foreground) and the foxgloves both are uninvited guests in our garlic patch. Both add charm and beauty.|
5. If you feed them, they will come.
|This flicker visits occasionally.|
So if you feed them, they will come. Any parent of grown kids and any party planner knows this is true. Lay on a feast, and they’re there. And that adds a lot of pleasure to life.
There’s one more lesson I learned, by accident, for which I will not share a photo. It’s this: if you accidentally step in dog poop (a grand-dog's unexpected deposit), the stink will follow you around for a long time. No further elaboration needed, methinks.
I posted something similar in an earlier blog (“Crow on the Go in the Garden,” May 10, 2014) .