I tended the neglected vegetable patch last week. Still wrapped in the aftermath of a summer’s holy days, I found home clay-cold, to-do lists long, and knuckle-down difficult. When the sun offered a sudden noon warmth my winter cold body took the blessing. The sweet scent of the jasmine unstifled the air as I dug into the soil, bare hands uprooting the dry and the neglect, open to receive.
Too many times before, and even more so of late, the tasks of hands tending, unearth heart and mind – yearning and seeking for a rhythm of life. I found some seedlings waving small new leaves. How did they survive? Echoes of dreams, ideas, reflections … sown and watered … in the wait of the growth it is easy for distractions to take over, for dryness and neglect to settle in … but somewhere, somehow, some do survive.
I raked the soil and removed stones, pieces of bark, and dead wood. I watered the dryness earth and planted again the seedlings – their small new leaves a healthy green. I hope for another chance, another bearable growth. I think about the distractions and the discomfort caused, and I’m grateful for the discomfort – it offers a new beginning.
I saw new growth on old wood. The place where the old growth ended and the new growth began left noticeable scars. A sealed past awakened for a tomorrow … and I’m grateful for the itchy scar, the healing dailiness of new beginnings.
A life in a day.
Behind in chair.
Lately, I’ve been potting
dried-out sucking for soil, air, fresh, newness succulents – survivors from yesteryear’s wedding
succulent gifts – the inspiration for the revival
some beetroot relish – other vegetables will soon find themselves in a pickle
and curdling milk – pont l’eveque mellowing in a man-made cave (aka a plastic container)
(the olive tree rooted on my to-do list)
fennel near the kennel – I searched in vain for a better plot
to capture your attention, but mainly
because I don’t want my writing, my life, go to pot.
Dear reader, please tell me – would you call this potting pottering?
My first remembrance of plants, or rather that which is associated with plants, is soil. Specifically the soil under some geranium bushes covering my younger sister’s cheeks and mouth … soil tasting of cigarette stub titbits….I was the docile five-year old. Many decades later the scent of a geranium (pelargonium?) continues to recall the memories.
My first remembrance of my plant, or rather its beginnings, was a seedling: the “grow-your-own-bean-between-two-pieces-of-cotton-wool” nature science experiment in primary school. The seedling germinated; for all that, I failed to associate the mentioned seedling with the green bean, potato and meat dish we so often had. Were these perhaps early sproutings of reasons why I home schooled our children many years later?
My first remembrance of a plant, my plant, was a purple? blue? African violet in a copper planter. It was a gift from my grandmother. Her house filled with copper planters, abundant with purple and dark red greenery… or was/is it just me yearning?
Botany lessons of propagation did not interest me. As a young married girl I merely bought a new viooltjie (small violet) when its leaves turned curly and spotty. Usambara violets? Some botany lessons did shoot some roots.
Just the other day I bought a deep blue? purple? (why didn’t I look closely?) African violet and gave it to my daughter. Were the memories so impressed that I unconsciously continued the gift of giving?
I hope not.
I met Ceropegia woodii in The Virgin Gardener – only to find out that it is a native plant of my own country! Laetitia Maklouf’s beautiful photograph convinced me to invest in one of these lovely succulents with tender trailing stems and heart-shaped leaves. After phoning ten nurseries, and glad that I didn’t rush off to the nearest one, I found two tiny hearts on a string (did I mention that the plant is a native of our country?). It looks beautiful all year long with the additional benefit of being a succulent.
It’s good for the hands to work in the garden – especially if the work implies weeding! Tugging and twitching at unwanted roots without fail reminds this heart of its need for stretching and uprooting. This heart that needs room for grace to thrive and flourish.
In our garden the morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) thrives and flourishes (and looks beautiful too) without any attention. Quite regularly I have to remove many viny stems that entwine and strangle other plants.
That’s why – just sometimes – I like weeding: it gives me time to reflect on trappings and loose threads entangling the room for grace and growth.
As I am not fond of making new resolutions (again) at the beginning of each (new) year, I decided at the end of last year to renew a past resolution: to be more patient – to learn patience. I remembered being 12 and receiving a blue magnet in the shape of a praying child from my mom. These words were written on it: Lord, please give me patience, but I want it right now!
I am not 12 anymore, and patience, well yes patience… I know its definition. The months of November and December gave me time to think about many aspects of life. And as I’ve started a herb and vegetable garden in the beginning of last year I decided that it would be a great new year’s opportunity to grow plants from seeds and cuttings – with an added bonus: patience! as it is definitely required for this endeavour.
I started. An unused piece of property – a pitch where the boys used to play cricket – is slowly transforming into a potting shed area. Everything used is salvaged from the yard. The plastic table will eventually make way for a working bench. Patience again! The seedling trays are planted with various herbs and vegetables, and the growbags are already showing their growth.
Yes, and this is also a formal expression of my intention – to do something. The resulting state can and will be worth the wait – I know.
Looking forward to new growth this year – with the accompanied pruning and bad weather – it does take a long time to grow an old friend (written on the painted board above the table).
1 Cor. 3: 6 – I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.