Saturday, April 22, 2006
Awakening the Season
I love gardening.
Please note that I didn't say "yard work". I said "gardening" just so we are clear. I know, sometimes the one involves the other, but gardening for its sake is a refreshing exercise of physical endeavor and reawakening the senses with living things, green growing things, new life.
New life. We can all use a little of that now and then. But after a long, wet, cold winter, we in southern Oregon do long for the sun and warmer temperatures. Ideally it is wonderful to see snow in the mountains while enjoying the warmth of breeze and sunlight here in our little valley.
And the cherry trees bloom first after the crocus, then the daffodils, tulips, hyacinths; now my apple tree is blooming, and I always, always know when spring is truly here, and that is when the redbud trees flower on branch and trunk. The bearded iris are tall in leaf but I will have to wait a bit for any stalks to show with buds. Even the Japanese water iris are getting into the act, and I noticed a water lily leaf emerging from the duckweed this morning.
My friend in Tacoma sent me a lovely pink-tinged hydrangea a few weeks ago. It is still inside but away from sunlight. They are shade-loving and I will plant it in the shade garden after I am sure the frost is over. Earlier, about two months ago, she sent me some dahlia bulbs which I planted last week. Hopefully I planted them right. The peonies--both herbaceous and tree-- are doing well, but again, if I think it will frost, I have to cover their tender shoots or no flowers for me.
My best friend locally had given me tulip bulbs in a wonderful heavy glass container several weeks prior to Easter, and I was able to enjoy watching them sprout and then bloom into delicate, light pinkish -tinged flowers. There is nothing like flowers in the winter to lighten one's spirit and refresh the soul. Thankfully these two friends knew just what I needed! Nature certainly knows how to show us that something indeed can come from apparently nothing.
I have always enjoyed the smell of freshly turned earth, the pungent scent of leaves and the loveliness of fragrant buds just opening to reveal themselves to us in all their mystery and magic.
And, while doing all of this, we can be surrounded by the chamber music of birds, insects and the comings and goings of creatures--furry or otherwise--that creation provides for our good pleasure.
I am in the unique position of having such creatures in my NWF Backyard Habitat which is actually my entire urban property. I truly think that animals can read English. And they know they will be protected in my sanctuary. I have had more than my share of opossums, racoons, field mice, accipitor hawks, ravens, piliated woodpeckers, stellar jays, and the usual fleet of goldfinches. I also room and board--in the woodpile--a family of rabbits, descendants of two store-bought rabbits that a neighbor let loose when they moved two years ago. They have become charming additions to the neighborhood and are not the villains some make them out to be. Once they use to run when I would step into the backyard, but now they just keep a watchful eye and we all go about our yardy business. Sometimes when arriving home latein the evening or at night, I have to slow down or stop altogether, roll down my car window and gently urge the rabbits to not sit in the middle of the street or to move aside so I can park in my driveway. Occasionally I have found little ones that are not as strong as the others and have provided them a safe warm place to return to their Maker. Maybe its the chaplain in me that knows that God cares for them as much as They care for us. And don't we all hope that we have a warm, safe place to die, and not alone, but perhaps with someone stroking our heads and speaking soft, kind words to us as we go...
So, I have much to do this spring. I need to weed, dig up things, move them to another place better suited to them, plant some new things, prune up some older things, rake, recycle, and then sit back and enjoy it all, over and over, again. I am toying with the idea of planting a small veggie garden this spring; one for me and one for the bunnies.
Cultivation is key in this process, or in any process where you wish for somthing to stay healthy and keep growing. There are many things in life that need that kind of care. But, you know, sometimes no matter how hard you try, some things simply die, regardless of how careful we are as they struggle to grow and blossom once again. And all the hoping and praying just doesn't get the job done--or so we think. So, we have to resign ourselves to knowing we did the best we could with what we had, and let the life go. There was no healing of it in this life, in this world.
I know I cannot save all the baby bunnies that find their way to one of my doors, as if asking for refuge in their last moments, but we can help them over the threshold into a longer lasting healing, and though we may not like the thought of it, death can be the beginning of healing for the unhealable in this life.
And with death each fall and winter, comes the hope and realization of new and truly unending life in the spring and summer of each year. May we all enjoy and acknowledge the life around us and in us, and those we meet along the way, creature and person.