I am most at home in my garden. It is here that the rich earth calls me to plant myself. I dig and hoe, oblivious to all that surrounds me. Time passes, and suddenly I find that I am weary, and ready for bed.
It is a delightful kind of exhaustion - of a day well spent. Contentment ensues. I feel complete.
It is not unusual for me to lose hours amid my flowers. I seek their solace often when the rest of the world does not make sense, or when I have a dilemma too large for my hands - and every time, I find solutions in my garden. The world always seems to set a bit easier with me at the end of my day in the garden.
My tending of this small portion of the earth is humbling, invigorating and joyous. I stretch the limits of my knowledge, and the flowers oblige by teaching me their rhythm.
Last week, it snowed and rained from Tuesday until Friday, then Saturday, the first Rhodedendron opened it's petals. Incredible.
So many things have survived my lack of "tending" last fall.
I praise their strength and am delighted.
This unknown shrub survived my harsh pruning - I was yelling at it for smothering another flowering shrub (an azalea I suspect) and I chopped it back so harshly. I thank it for forgiving my harsh pruning, and returning to life.
It not only survived, but has been blooming all winter.
My Wisteria - I ignored it completely last fall. I wasn't familiar with what type it is, and was hesitant to prune it, plus my hand injury limited my ability to do a good job, so I just let it go fallow - wondering if it would survive my negligence.
The garden has been forgiving - and once again welcomes Spring in spite of me. and I am grateful.
I have found that I have learned some of the best wisdom in the garden. I have learned of impermanence, of right timing, of life that outlasts my own. I have learned from soil that is too rocky and soil that is rich. I am anxious for spring to settle in, so that I may learn more from this small plot of earth which I now caretake. And I feel completely blessed.
One last word on gardening: I have begun reading a complete gift of a book. "Gardening at the Dragon's Gate" by Wendy Johnson. If you too love gardening, this will be a welcome addition to your shelves. The author is an astute student of life - of history - of gardens. It reads like a novel, and I find that I can hardly put it down. It is an epic work of organic gardening information, as well as history and folk lore from many cultures. Wendy writes as though you were walking through her garden with her on a summer's day - speaking in soft conversational tones of a great master. Bless her.
I leave you with a quote from her marvelous book: "In the first years of Green Gulch Farm, whenever a new Zen student came to work in the garden, he or she was sent out alone to spend the day sitting in meditation somewhere in the garden. When you slow down like this, the real garden is uncovered. And so is the real gardener. You unfold together. This takes time and a willingness to sit still past the moment when you get bored, or past the moment when you think of at least thirty worthy garden tasks that you need to accomplish immediately. Instead, give yourself all the time in the world, and don't move, even if by the clock you only have half an hour to be in the garden. This is radical cultivation, for out of this stillness,, the real nature of your garden soil is exposed...... but beyond any particular lesson, sitting still on the earth restores you to yourself and to the freshness of the whole garden."
The author, Wendy Johnson, invites you not only into her incredible wisdom about the land, the folklore and it's history, but into her heart as she works the earth. It reads like a novel - and is dense with wisdom about life and gardens.
I do not know if I own my garden, or if it owns me. I am simply grateful for this small plot of earth in which to sink my fingers and feet.