Mark continues to improve after his bi-lateral knee surgery. I stayed with him at the hospital last night and until late this morning when I left to run errands and make sure things are set up at the house for him. When I left the grocery store today, I couldn’t remember exactly where I parked, but I had an idea. I knew I was close to a cart corral. So I started walking. When I couldn’t see my car after a few minutes I resorted to using the lock button on my key to try to hear where it was. And I was successful. I could hear it, and I knew it was close, but I still couldn’t see it. After pushing the button and listening three or four times, I found my car. I was standing right in front of it, which made me shake my head and laugh. I am more tired than I realize. Hopefully I will sleep well at home tonight before our big day tomorrow when Mark is scheduled to come home. Thanks for your continued support, thoughts and good wishes.
The following is from the archives. I wrote this in early February of 2001 for a class I was taking at the College of Mount St. Joseph called Exploring the Sacred. It is about flowers, and gardening, hope, and faith. It actually feels like spring here today, but I don’t believe it will last. We’ll see tomorrow. . .
I stand in the cold silence, my warm breath visible as frost in the air, and look at my garden in winter. It is a wasteland of death and destruction, a battlefield abandoned and forgotten. The ground is a mottled painting of black moist soil covered by patches of curled leaves in hues of brown and circles of persistent stale snow. The thorny spikes of rose bushes stand bare and formidable. Dry, brittle stems, washed of color fall helter-skelter in disarray. The once supple green foliage is now a faded brown as it stands leans or falls, bent and broken. The tall garden phlox rise like spears, still bundled from the summer’s staking. A sedum plant, only a few months ago so densely green with a blaze of scarlet, is now a dull maroon on naked stems. The lush and brilliant has become the dull and barren. Clusters of mums with brown dried flowers that raised their autumn golden heads now bow in shame or sorrow. The summer urn lies toppled on its side spilling out its contents of soil and decay. One faithful stone angel stands guard over the pebble path that meanders through the wreckage. Another angel lies flat on its back staring at the winter sky, a casualty of cold blasts of ice and snow. As I gaze over the worn white picket fence at my garden I mourn the reminder of what once was and I think ahead to the spring.
When spring heralds itself with a blue sky and warm fresh scented air, I’ll go out to my garden again and assess the winter’s damage. With a childlike awe and surprise, I will find the first little green sprigs poking their heads out of the black soil announcing their presence. I’ll see life swelling in the buds on the roses’ thorny stems. On my knees I’ll wipe away the wounds of winter as I rake and remove piles of broken twigs and dead foliage with my bare hands. Autumn’s odors of decay in the leaves will be replaced by the fresh scent of new growth and the aroma of black rich soil warmed by the first rays of spring. I’ll feel the warmth of the sun on my bent back as I work. The birds will share my excitement as they keep me good company with their curiosity and songs of joy. When I am finished the garden will be transformed into a bed of black, dotted with spots of bright green, and perhaps splashed with the color of an early bloom or two from a yellow crocus or grape hyacinth.
I’ll work on my knees with my hands in the soil, transplanting plants that have outgrown their space. The fresh fragrance, the warmth of the sun and the songs of the birds will permeate my being. I will be one with the earth in the early spring of my garden.
I’ll wait for the spring blues of the tiny forget-me-nots and for the delicate columbine with bowed head that hides it’s humble beauty. I’ll wait for the stunning sweet fragrance of the hyacinth and the bright yellow of the bold daffodils. I know that the constant plants will emerge independently in a carefully orchestrated concert one more time. Each new bloom will be a welcomed back friend.
As the sun burns brighter and the days grow longer, delicate spring will give way to the brilliant, wild and reckless abandon of summer’s full bloom. I will work in the early hours of the day when the birds are singing their morning songs and the cool of the night air still lingers. I’ll slip on my red rubber clogs, gather my hand trowel and rake, and step into the morning calm and solitude. With a stick and a bit of twine I’ll give support to the over-enthusiastic bloomers that stumble and sprawl. Staking, weeding, pruning, and watering are the tasks of summer. As the day warms, the bumblebees will join me in their soft coats of yellow and black, buzzing about me in a drunken stupor as they saturate themselves in the bountiful pollen. The bees will cause me no alarm as we engage in a dance of give and take, working side by side.
In the summer I will be held in awe by great miracles and mysteries. I’ll sow again the tiny seeds of the cosmos or the zinnia. With only the help from the earth, rain, and sun, they’ll transform into full, towering plants laden with bright colors in shades of lavender, pink and red. I will contemplate the strength of the fragile beauty of the blossoms that survive pelting rains and violent winds of summer’s storms. The Abraham Darby will bloom again and I will drink in once more the sweet spiced fragrance of its old-fashioned rose blossom with petals of pink edged in yellow. I will watch the birds celebrate in my garden paradise while my heart dances with the waltzing butterflies. When the cool air and calm return at the end of the day, I’ll wander along the pebble path and bend to touch a satin petal, examine the crystal bead of water cupped by the Lady’s Mantle, or breathe in the sweet fragrance of summer roses.
Summer will give me a harvest of joy and hope. I will gather stems of color in my arms as summer’s full bloom and mix of fragrance provide me once more a gift to a dying friend of a bouquet from the earth. It will be all I have to offer. It will be a reminder of beauty, and that God is good—that God is.
Over the years I have pulled out weeds of anger and discontent in my garden. I have watered my plants with tears of frustration or sorrow. And I have rejoiced in the splendor of God’s creation.
After the last of the roses fade and fall, I know that autumn will come with its final blast of golden and scarlet color. I see very clearly that I am only an instrument to defend and protect with my weeding and staking and watering. I know that with or without me the plants will grow, bloom, fade and die. But I will be here for now to see, touch and smell them. I will be here for now to revel with the birds and the bees and the butterflies. I will be here to mourn the passing.
As I stand with frozen breath gazing over the white, worn picket fence I am startled now by remnants of green peeking through the spots of white snow and brown leaves. I notice the soft, pale green of the lamb’s ear feathered with white. An edge of tiny leaves of the snow-in-summer cascade over a rock in shades of pale blue-green. The plush, dense mat of the cottage pinks with their blue tinted needle leaves struggle with the fallen leaves of the oak to cover the feet of the naked rose. As I look more closely I see that throughout the garden islands of green foliage are refusing to succumb to winter’s call. I am reassured once again that beneath the leaves and snow and death, the roots of life are sleeping, gaining strength for the show that lies ahead. And as I stand here in the cold silence I know my garden lives.