Tuesday, August 13, 2013

everything i need to know, my garden taught me

This morning I was sitting in the "outside living room" I created a couple of days ago with two colorful indoor/outdoor mats I bought at my local garden store. I had my tea; nobody else was up; I thought I would be able to do Morning Pages and get centered and ready for the day, for at least a little while.

One word in (not kidding) I heard, from the top of the stairs in that luscious little voice I love: "gramma!!!! gramma!!!! morning hug and kiss!!!!"

Well. Anybody who would ignore "morning hug and kiss" in order to write a few more words does not know what love is. I put down my journal and my pen and went up the stairs and wrapped my arms around this lovely little sprite who joined our family almost four years ago.

It was still chilly out, even though this morning the fog hadn't rolled in and we had a beautiful clear blue sky, so I went and got her robe. She sat at the top of the stairs while I helped her into it and tied it around her luscious perfect little waist. Then we went down the stairs, holding hands, and out to the back patio.

Where I now have an oasis I only dreamed of a few months ago.

I did not see this coming. My back patio has been a wasteland of concrete for years now. I have looked out there and thought "Oh crap I SHOULD landscape this."

Well. That was a lot of shoulds. I've been "shoulding" on myself for as long as I can remember. It has not helped.

Notwithstanding all my shoulds -- I now have a space out back that I love spending time in. In fact, I can't wait to get out there in the morning, and in the evening I light candles and spend my time out there until it gets too cold.

How did this happen?

One day, a couple of months ago, Stella and I went to Pastime Hardware to buy something we needed (I don't remember what it was). We walked by a display of seed packets.

Stella noticed the seed packets. "ooo!!!" she said. "oh gramma!!!" she said.

So I said "Cool, Baby. Pick out what you like and let's plant them!"

So she did. She picked out sunflowers. and dwarf cosmos. and sweet peas. I bought them, thinking "Oh yeah, this will be like everything else I've planned for a garden in the last buncha years. These seed packets will sit on the dining room table until it's 2014 and they have passed their "use-by" date.

That could have happened. But it didn't. Because I had an approaching-four-year-old Being who was all about "planting babies" and taking care of them. So I bought some really good organic potting soil, and put it in the places where we would want to plant the seeds.

And then we planted the seeds.

We planted seeds. Little dry tiny nothing-to-write-home-about things we poured out of paper packets into our hands. We made little holes in new soil with our fingers (Stella was totally into that activity) and we put a seed in each little hole. Then we poured some water over the area where we had planted our seeds.

I've gardened. When I was in graduate school my front garden was so beautiful people would stop when they walked by my house and bask in the beauty of what was growing there.

I've gardened. But i've never planted from seeds.

Because I don't trust seeds. I look at seeds and I think "OH yeah. sure. I don't think so."

And then I go to the nursery and I buy seedlings that are already well on their way to being plants. And I plant those. Because I only trust what I can see has already emerged.

Imagine my shock when I look at my back patio and I see (from seeds) a fully fleshed out, mature garden.The sunflowers are taller than I am. The other day I witnessed a fat squirrel climbing up the stalk of one of them (it's strong enough to hold the weight of a full-grown fat squirrel) and wrest a small bloom off the stalk. Where we had a bare square left over from the apricot tree that died this spring, we now have a plethora of sunny yellow and orange dwarf cosmos, and nasturtiums. I've put in other flowering plants, in pots. They are thriving too. And adding the colorful mats has just brought the space to life.

To me, sitting out there in the sun now, or in the fog, it's just magic. I look around, and I cannot imagine what it was like before we planted those seeds. And I am astonished at what we have now.  And I don't know how that happened either.

Here's what I've learned, from this experience: I had a wasteland of a back patio. It was concrete. It was grey. I didn't know what to do with it. I had some fantasies. But no plans. Just a desire.

I bought some seeds.

I planted the seeds.

I watered.

When something showed up in my world that seemed it might fit, I bought it and put it back there too.

That's all I did.

I did not strive. I did not plan. I did not map out a strategy. I did not obsess. I did not spend a lot of money. I did not work hard. Nothing whatsoever about this was difficult.

All I did is follow my heart.

And now i have a heart's home.


  1. Lovely! And so true for any part of of life what we water will grow!

  2. Just realized that my comments from last night are not here....hmmmm. Need to think them out again...it was about how appropriate the plant seeds become the seeds of a new reality in so many ways. Love this post and sorry that my last one did not come through.

  3. ah dang, Duff -- would have loved to have seen them...and still would if you feel like redoing...but yeah that's how i was thinking about it too...and actually, now that you mention it, this intersects with the poem i brought to our group last month too...seems to be a theme for me these days :)