By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
The garden is in its full glory. The hydrangea bushes droop with blossoms; the black-eyed Susans smile throughout the beds; the zinnias sing in riotous colors. Gardeners everywhere tuck their spades and scissors in their pockets, stand up and stretch, and breathe deeply.
Gardening is a creative practice in patience and persistence. Victories and failures. Joys and sorrows.
Gardens present their caretakers with occasional opportunities to pause and appreciate the beauty of their work and the bounty they receive.
Committing to a garden is much like this journey of life. For both gardens and relationships to thrive, they demand consistent care and attention. If we become inattentive and look away for too long, weeds invade and take over.
We have been working on our gardens, expanding them, adjusting them, weeding them for over 30 years.
We are strictly flower gardeners. We have tried fruits and vegetables throughout the decades but have found our best success with perennial and annual flowers.
Surprises happen in our gardens.
Sometimes they are aggravating: the mulberry trees which vigorously emerge along the picket fence; the blue jay that dives for my head as I walk below the redbud tree; the poison ivy creeping silently under the daylilies.
But more often the surprises are pleasant: a cedar waxwing feeding its young in the spirea; the resurrection of a rosebush we thought dead; a tiny bunny who darts from space to space as we water.
Similarly, unexpected things happen all the time in our lives. Sometimes they are heartbreaking: hard words with family or friends; a troubling test result; or the loss of a relationship. But then a friend we haven’t seen in years knocks at our door; a new restaurant opens down the street; we rock a new grandbaby.
In my experience, things eventually come back in balance and life rights itself.
My friends Bob and Rachel gave me the book “Inciting Joy” a month ago. I heard the author, Ross Gay, read some of his poetry on an NPR program where he described how joy felt to him. This gift, this book of essays, tackles the reality that joy is never in isolation. That sorrow is never far away. He reminds us that both are a part of life. Both can and do exist within “the same room.”
So true, but it’s a challenge to embrace joy while sorrow clouds our view. To live fully, we must persist in seeking the sun, sowing new seeds, improving the soil.
Whatever this life brings, the sun rises and sets, the cardinal sings his beautiful song, the roses emit their intoxicating fragrance.
Like my morning walk through the garden, each day offers opportunities to pull some weeds. To clean up parts of our life that we have neglected. To care for and nurture our loved ones.
It also offers a chance to try some new plants. To greet someone warmly. To be fully in the moment.
It’s a Fine Life.
By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe