Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.
–Alfred Austin, English poet, 1835-1913
Readers of this post at the start of the New Year will notice the change in the photo that makes up the banner. Gone is the winter look. Instead there is a colorful vibrant reminder of what creates smiles, and carries us forward in life. While I have some truly wonderful snowy scenes that will spread out on the banner, if and when winter truly takes hold in our neighborhood, for now there is a photo that contains a message. Not so much for the bulk of my readers perhaps, but one for me.
The message is that it is time to turn the page, start a new chapter, and launch a New Year.
Last fall James emailed me the quote about gardens from Alfred Austin, and over the months I have pondered it, and now want to share what I have concluded.
When someone asks me how I handle stress I point to one of our flowerbeds. Digging out sod and making holes for new plantings is perhaps one of the best days of the warm months in Madison. It means that weeks of planning, looking, and thinking about the project will have allowed for colorful expectations to be created. The thumbing through seed catalogs during the winter months and thinking about plants is akin to the way I lingered over Christmas catalogs as a boy. There is just no end to the possibilities.
The love of flower gardening with the desired end result is a joy that James and I share. More than one person who has stopped along our sidewalks in the warm months has said that if one of us is digging a hole another must be in back getting the mulch. If one is mowing, the other must be trimming. If one is staking up a leaning flower, the other must be getting ready to water the plants. There is a harmony not only of color in the gardens, but equally important of our personalities. I could not imagine gardening with any one other than James.
The flower gardens, and the work that goes into them serves a real purpose.
Over the past 12 months there have been many times that my head was lowered in sadness, but my knees never bent. The same holds true for James. As we exit the old year we are reinforced with the ever-constant knowledge of what is truly important, and what is just noise. To put it another way we know what constitutes a bloom, and what is merely a weed that needs to be pulled.
When the dark days overtook us early last year, and when they struck again late in the fall, I found myself looking out at the ground that was cold and bare. The chairs where we sat and read in summer around the flowers were put away for the season, the rose cones in place, the ground bare of color.
All that remained was hope.
For you see there is always a spring day just ahead when you have a flower garden. There is always the promise of a morning when you pull open the blinds and the first tulip of the season beckons, or the first splash of yellow from a daffodil catches the eye. There is always a summer evening when if you are still the hummingbirds rush in and sample the red flowers. There is always the knowledge that one day not so far down the calendar the scent of fresh-cut grass will bring a broad smile.
After thinking about the quote from Alfred Austin I have some words for those who look at our flower gardens and ponder who we are based on them.
Survivors, companions, dreamers, and lovers of life.
Happy New Year.