Monday, July 27, 2009

About a Garden

What is it about a garden that soothes the soul and lifts the spirit? Yesterday was such a day. It had been a horrible day when everything seemed to go wrong. It started when I slept much later than I had planned. My back hurt and muscles were stiff. So I am thinking, what will I have for breakfast? That was a rhetorical question because I knew the answer. Cook some toast and eggs, and spread some spicy nacho cheese on them for a kicker. It doesn't take much you know, just a spoonful or two. Well heck, it's Sunday, so why not a slice of turkey ham on the side. Like Pavlov's dog, I was already salivating.

So I open the fridge and my heart skipped a beat. Where was the nacho cheese sauce? "Oh honey, I took that into the office last week for a gathering we held."


"You what?"

"Sorry. I didn't mention it to you?"

"Um no."

Ah well, eggs and toast sound fine. Where is that bread? ::pause:: Where IS that bread? I was out of bread! Arrrrghhhhhhh! Not just any argh, but ARGHHHHHHH! So it was oatmeal again. ::mumble mumble::

Okay, that was the beginning. The computer was taking a holiday, loading very slowly as I sat not so patiently watching the little circular arrow go and go and go ad nauseum. My list was growing, my temper was shortening, and my impatience and restlessness were reaching new heights.

Oh crap, I haven't taken out the garbage yet. They come tomorrow. Who knew those words would be the instruments of my salvation? Why not since I'm going down anyway go ahead and water the garden? Those sunflowers were out in full bloom, so I decided to take my camera.

I walked into the back yard grabbing the hose and turned on the water. Standing there as I soaked my little space in the corner of the back yard next to the garage, I felt a peace descend over me. When I was done, I just sat down for a bit and watched everything growing. The greens and yellows from the squash with towering sunflowers overlooking and the dark purple eggplants beginning to form just behind them. There is a scent and feel to a garden, and the sun was shining warming upon my skin and in spite of myself, a smile formed on these old lips.

One of the things I love about photography is that in looking for better shots, I'm required to pay attention to light, perspective, framing etc. What all that means is that I'm moved to deeper levels of observation that perhaps I might normally engage. At one point I was even on the ground, elbows holding me up while I took my shot. That in turn evoked childhood memories, lying in the grass, seeing the world from a very different angle. How interesting I thought that some of those scenes dating back over 50 years were there ready to be replayed in this moment with such clarity and detail that it seemed only yesterday.

My neighbor walked up, and we talked quietly over the fence. She's a lovely older woman with a beautiful heart, perhaps in her late seventies or early eighties. We talked about our gardens. She mentioned a hummingbird she sighted the other day, and her efforts to keep her cat away from that bird. We talked about the sunflowers, which began in her yard and migrated to mine by way of bird transport no doubt. "Look behind that garage," she says. "There's a raspberry bush back there and the birds are going to get them all!"

"Thanks, I will! Didn't even know there was one there! I was out picking gooseberries the other day." I pointed to the gooseberry bush over in the corner. She recalled picking gooseberries as a child. How they seemed tasteless now, but back then they were so rich in flavor. Then it was time for her to get ready for evening church services, and I had to go back upstairs where lots of work was waiting.

Isn't it amazing really how the simplest things in life can bring such happiness? No more than a garden, a friendly neighbor, a touch or a smile. Nothing we said was especially noteworthy or new. Nothing could have been said at all really. But on this Sunday we had communion. The church has a litany of Eucharist, but that is not what I mean though metaphors there can be found. I'm talking about communion with nature and with my neighbor. From the garden will come the fruits of the earth. Fruits available because of the gifts of nature, but also because of the offerings of my labor. This is my body. From my neighbor, came the sharing of her soul, and I mine. Each of us offering up a piece of ourselves. This is my blood.

All of this came from a visit to the garden. Yesterday was such a lovely day!

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