Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Growing me in the garden.

I am a learning gardener. I'll admit to anyone that while, walking the road with my Aunt Nancy or either grandmother, I learned the names of lots of plants and flowers, and I enjoyed the process, I am just beginning to know anything. I took in lots those years ago, but I had to learn so much by default. Once I moved into my own apartment and worked in advertising I was in constant learning mode. Then, I was a trainee in a huge international agency and was expected to learn and learn and learn and perform. It was a decidedly difficult position -- learning while directing others, but I digress. I share it to say that much of my brain space during those years was  dedicated to work and then, of course, learning about my life as an adult.

So, I'll ask you to forgive my many gardening foibles because they are simply my truths: I tried to grow Gloxinia and Delphinium indoors. I killed three ficus trees (also indoors) because they needed sun (too). I expected flowers from non-shade plantings in the sun and forgot to water plants like hydrangea (the name didn't provide enough of a hint for me).

But in my dedication to trying and learning, I started keeping notes here and there and gained understanding that sun at the base of a plant is important. That noticing when and where the sun landes during the day predicts a plants success -- if success is a flower show or fruit.

A couple of years ago I went all out near the end of summer, when the Coastal Eddy, which brings May Gray, June Gloom and that year July haze, had departed. I nurtured some of the plants through into spring replacing the waning summer plantings with lettuce and broccoli.

It was fun. Not a heavy task, but fun.

I commented to a friend at one point that I was learning a little about myself in the nurturing and the weeding. There's much to be said, perhaps on another occasion, about the pulling of weeds and even spent favorites, for the sake of what's taking hold and growing. It's a useful metaphor, chock full of thought and intention and understanding.

This year, the older, wiser, longing gardener in me was blessed with a brilliant opportunity. The lengthy story about invading roots from a neighbor's fig tree stands in the background, but in this process, grass was removed, watering slowed and new garden spaces were added. My main garden, a cottage-style rose and this-and-that garden was rethought to roses and herbs, arugula and broccoli, brussels sprouts and carrots and onions and strawberries.

Much of his occurred in late fall and there was all this "patch of dirt" business around, that I was inspired to tuck some sprouted Sweet Peas, Sweet Pea seeds, English Peas, carrots and arugula into the ground. I had plenty of extra seeds so after the garden patch planting and also planting here and there I waited. That was November and yesterday, the first of March I cut my first two purple Sweet Peas and displayed them on my mantle. While planting a blueberry plant, I snagged one of the last carrots and discovered the English Peas. (I haven't learned to mark them -- thought they were small Sweet Peas with tiny flowers.)

Later, as I hid tulip bulbs deep into the pot where they'll gestate, I thought this: I am experiencing such joy in patience. Nurturing joy, nurturing expectancy, nurturing love for the task. As a mom,I don't miss the analogy to carrying a baby, but truly, more importantly I see that God is teaching me -- experiencing the fruits (I didn't miss that) of His Holy, Holy Spirit.

Love. (of the project, the process, the fruit)
Joy. (in the planning, the doing, the waiting)
Peace. (in the early morning, birdsong filled stillness as I observe)
Patience. (as I wait with great expectation and thrill at the movements)
Kindness. (my God provided all of this for my benefit)
Goodness. (a Potager garden is full of goodness -- in flavor, in nutrition, in sight)
Faithfulness. (in the watering, the tending, the weeding, the visiting)
Gentleness. (moving a vine, lifting a berry)
Self-Control. (see Patience -- waiting for the bud to bloom, the fruit to ripen)

He's growing me in the midst of all this fruitful beauty.
And I'm learning from my Father in the garden.

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