Do you walk through your garden each day? What do you see?
I took a leisurely stroll along our quiet country lanes a few days ago and was amazed what a difference just a few days had made. Last week there were fat, tantalizing buds filled with promise, yet the overall palette was still mostly a sea of verdant green. On this day, the neighborhood gardens were transformed with rhododendrons, appleblossom, forget-me-nots, fragrant lilacs, and nodding bluebells. Chickens were scratching and clucking. Bees were buzzing. I found myself stopping to snap a few photos with my phone to share with a friend, reminiscing as I did so about the memories several of these awakened.
It made me think. I do walk through my garden every day – but I'm looking for problems; pests, disease, weeds that need to be pulled, vegetable seedlings that need to be thinned, grass that needs to be cut, and bushes that need to be trimmed. I'm focused on seeking out the negative.
In these surreal times where every day the world news is dire and full of frightening statistics, it is easy to lose a sense of perspective, lose our sense of hope, and fall into a place of despair and negativity, expecting and looking for the worst. Clearly, I need to reset my brain. I need to actively seek out the good, the positive; things that make me smile.
So early the next morning I grabbed my camera and went out into my garden with fresh eyes – looking for simple pleasures. As my (non-gardening) friend said when I shared my photos, "Simple stuff is good."
Yet what I got was far more than a few photographs. I found peace.
There is a magical quality to the garden in those early hours when the grass is still heavy with dew and all is still. There is a sense of anticipation. As I set up my tripod I was aware of the robins singing, hummingbirds flying around me, and the tree frogs croaking in the wetlands. The quality of the light is quite blue initially – something that always fascinates me. Yet as soon as the sun pierces the canopy of our surrounding woodland everything changes. Opaque leaves become translucent. Dull burgundy becomes fiery red. The garden glows.
I found myself smiling as I scurried from one 'garden moment' to another, capturing the light cast on bark, buds, and blooms. Here are just a few of those moments;
Emerging and Unfurling
We get so focused on the mature leaf or flower that we often overlook the small miracle that occurs as the bud swells and opens to reveal the hidden treasure.
Or what about those conifer cones? They are so colorful right now.
Don't just look at your garden – reach out and touch it! Feel the fuzzy stem and notice how the velvety moss contrasts with the shaggy tree bark and wispy grasses.
We can't hug our neighbors or our friends right now – but we can touch our plants!
An Ants-Eye View
Bend down – right down – look beneath the foliage. In a few more days these treasures will be hidden from view.
My grandad (my dad's dad) lived next door to us in England. He was a funny old soul who loved his dogs and his garden, providing our family with all the fruit and vegetables we ever needed, just moments from harvest to table. Much of my childhood was spent in his garden and many of my garden memories can be attributed to him. Bluebells grew all around his large greenhouse. At age 5 when I had my tonsils and adenoids out (as was typical in those days) he cut me a large bunch and placed them by my bedside. Forget-me-nots self-seeded with abandon along the fence line between our homes as did lilac in shades of both purple and white.
Today, over 50 years later, I grow all these in my own garden some 5000 miles away from my childhood home – and they remind me of those simpler times and simple pleasures. Of love and acceptance. Of being outdoors. Of observing nature and the seasons and of embracing every moment.
What do You See?
We will always remember 2020 as the year we were on "lockdown", the year we lost friends to the pandemic, the year we had our special event or trip cancelled, the year when stores counted us in and out to avoid crowding.
May I challenge you? Go out into your garden – you've got time this year after all. Time to actually watch the miracle of nature unfold before your eyes. You may never have this opportunity again – so embrace it. Take your coffee or your camera.
What do you see? What makes you smile? Bend down. Look more closely. Witness the small wonders in your own garden. Breathe deeply and take some small measure of comfort in the understanding that "simple stuff is good." Look for the light.
Hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all of the darkness~ Desmond Tutu