Monday, June 1, 2015


We went to the plant store yesterday, my daughter and I. She pushed a flatbed cart and we collected random pots. She had been eager for days, pushing pushing pushing for us to go to the store. There was no time for me to plan my purchases. Usually I stare at the ground, considering the gaps, imagining late summer lushness. Gardens are tricky. In the first lust of spring it's easy to be fooled by the spare shoots surrounded by bare earth. There's a post-winter desire for abundance. But too much and the garden chokes itself, the final hurrah fizzling in a pool of green. Gardens are a constant lesson in both hope and humility.

I wasn't prepared. She was hot and tired after field day, and impatient with me. She is often impatient with me. I am more deliberate than she. I read instructions. I plan. I ponder. I consider possibilities and only then do I act. She is a hummingbird, chirping and changing directions so fast she leaves me dizzy. I admire her until I attempt to redirect her toward half-finished projects. Then we argue, and I catch her impatience, throwing away half-used things and growling that she needs to think her plans through.

We lost two roses this year, glorious giant bushes of pink flowers that marked my home as much as the yellow slide in front. My daughter chose stately white replacements, tea roses rather than floribunda. I like the titles. Tea. Floribunda. Grandiflora. Rugosa. They feel like a secret code which I pretend to understand. I chose Spanish Sunset, an nother tea, because I crave intensity in my garden. The contrast beween winter's white and brown, and summer's vivid oranges and purples satisfies some ancient seasonal part of me.

I will plant everything today. Agastache and thyme and hyssop. In the heat of the mid-summer sun my garden smells like a fertile candy store. I will miss much of it this year. I am planting hope.
It's a solitary ritual for me, digging in compost, knocking the pots, watering everything in. Alone, but not lonely as I think of my mother and helping in her garden. Then I will stand back and admire the thin spires and tiny carpets, islands in the dirt, imagining the glory to which I hope to return in August.

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