Tending

I just finished deadheading the petunias around my mailbox. Noticing how much I enjoy doing it. I like to check how the flowers are doing, see whether they have enough water, pause to enjoy their colors and scent. I like to touch them, talk to them, spread their stems so that they have air and space (a little like fluffing pillows). Especially after rain when they are a bit bedraggled it is satisfying to tidy them up a bit. I do this with my potted geraniums too, pinching off the dead flowers, pulling the yellowed leaves, checking moisture, while I murmur encouraging words and gratitude for their beauty. Come to think of it, I enjoy weeding too. I don’t show much compassion for the weeds, I guess, but I like how pulling weeds gives the garden plants room to spread and breathe. Ensures there is nothing to steal nutrients from them, or to blur their lovely shape and blooms by crowding them. I doubt that any of this is necessary–the plants do fine on their own when I am out of town–but they seem a bit forlorn if I ignore them. Or maybe it’s me that’s forlorn– I feel sweetly content each time I connect with my plants this way. (Actually, it reminds me of the pleasure of changing my kids’ diapers. Though I was glad when they could eventually go to the potty themselves, until then diaper changing was a precious time. A time when I would talk to them, touch them lovingly of course, sing to them—I made up songs, probably to keep us both interested—little operas,...

A Tall Order

It’s amazing what you can get on Amazon. Recently, when I was in Lanesboro Minnesota visiting my friend, I learned that the nearby town of Peterson, population 200, had taken up a collection and ordered an 8 ½-foot gnome to honor their Norwegian heritage (and for fun and to drum up business I imagine). (Who knew you could get an 8 ½-foot gnome on Amazon?) Well, the gnome got lost somehow en route, so Amazon apologized and sent them another one. (How do you lose an 8 ½-foot gnome?)    Eventually, the lost one showed up, leaving Peterson with two 8 ½-foot gnomes. (Apparently Amazon thought it was too much trouble to ship one of them back.) Of course my friend and I had to drive to Peterson to see them. One gnome sits in Peterson’s city park and the other next to a sign welcoming visitors to the town. Turns out 8 ½ feet isn’t as large as you think (though still impressive). See photo. If gnomes are not your thing, we later discovered that the company that made these gnomes also sells (among many other items): A Welsh dragon that is 6 ½ feet high and 9 feet long; An African elephant that is 8 feet tall and 12 feet long; A giraffe that is nearly 12 feet tall and 6 ½ feet long; A charging triceratops that is 10 ½ feet high and 20 ½ feet long; and A Brachiosaurus that is 15 ½ feet high and 18 feet long. These huge items are probably intended for cities or companies, but I laugh, imagining one (or more!) of...

Ants in the Sun

Don’t you love how when you’re really tired, that’s when you slam your hand in the car door, or trip and bruise your knees (or break a bone), or forget to make that important phone call, or burst into tears when your coffee cup dances off the table and smashes on the floor— Or when you roll over onto your glasses (glasses which you virtually NEVER take off), distorting and cracking the frame beyond repair. As I did last night. Every year the days of spring and early summer take me by surprise. I imagine they will be soft and delicate like the earliest spring blossoms, but instead they abound with splashy color– end of school celebrations and graduations, weddings, outdoor social events, and frenetic gardening… in addition to all the usual activities of daily life. While the flowers simply bask and stretch out luxuriantly in the warm sun, we humans run around like ants, as if the sun were a stick poking into our hill. I’ve also had travels, funerals and grief over world events, so I am too tired right now to write many more words. I hope you are not so tired. I intend to take the advice of this poem, The Word, by Tony Hoagland to heart, and perhaps you need it too: Down near the bottom of the crossed-out list of things you have to do today,   between “green thread” and “broccoli” you find that you have penciled “sunlight.”   Resting on the page, the word is as beautiful, it touches you as if you had a friend   and sunlight were a present he...

Dirt on the Fourth of July

I recently had an odd dream. In the dream I enter a woman’s public rest room. There I find a woman bent over her baby at a changing table. With calm determination she is trying to clean up piles and smears of pudding-like poop. The baby seems contented, and there is poop everywhere. Without a second thought I pitch in to help since she obviously could use more hands to get this done. With a nod and a brief smile, we work seamlessly together. When our mission is accomplished I go on my way, pleased to be of help and happy to be deflected from my previous plans (whatever they were). Can you believe I dreamt this twice within three nights? (Different mother and baby in each dream but the dream was the same.) Because it was a recurring dream I spent some time with it in meditation, pondering and writing. The colors of the dream were brown and green, like things growing in the earth. I was struck with the image of women’s capable hands, calmly working together in the dirt/poop. While I decided the dream had personal things to tell me, I also sensed a broader meaning. The dream seemed to be suggesting: Women know that life, death and transformation are interwoven and cyclical; The world is a mess right now, needs lots of “cleaning up” to better support Life, and women know what needs to be done and how to work together on it with joy and ease; Messes are normal in life—essential in this material world—so we needn’t react or resist them, merely get busy to...

Cranky

I got a big chuckle the other day at Bachman’s. Amidst the decorative garden pots, birdbaths, fountains and plethora of garden statues, a gargoyle captured my imagination. He was cranky. He wasn’t the typical gargoyle, fierce or demonic, not a fearsome gatekeeper guarding the garden door. He just seemed cranky. “Don’t mess with me today!” cranky. Maybe two feet high, ears back, head slung forward, white knuckled, claws digging deeply into his perch, a wonderful rendering of a grumpy gargoyle. The sheer novelty of a grumpy gargoyle was amusingly refreshing. Especially sitting there amongst cheerful garden fairies, gnomes, angels, Buddhas, butterflies, birds and cats. While I’m not sure I’d want to see him in my garden every day, I did notice my breath and belly relaxed as I gazed at this irritated creature amid  the sweet serenity of all the others. And something else made me laugh out loud. He was me. Me, when I’m frustrated or overwhelmed. Me, when I’m ignored or discounted. Me, when I’m tired and need to leave the party. Me, in the deep dark cold of late November? Sometimes crankiness just happens. Seeing myself in him delighted me. I don’t get crabby as often as I used to back in the days of practicing law, mothering young children, and enduring PMS (I don’t think so anyway). Several years ago I realized that when I am crabby, it usually means that I need either to nap or to cry—usually cry. I may be angry, I may be sad, I may even be mostly peaceful, and I need to cry. It’s as though tears build up in...

Ode to a Sandbox

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.                                                                                                                            Oliver Wendell Holmes                                                                                                                                                      I miss my sandbox. When I was a kid we had a big pile of sand to play in at the corner of our back yard near our swing set and jungle gym. My little brother and I spent hours there, building miniature cities of sand and water, with “paved” roads for cars and trucks, weeds stuck in the sand for trees. Though once the city was built, I often moved away to a corner, idly pushing sand around, dreaming, while my brother pushed his cars through the city. I loved to just sit on the sand and run my fingers and toes through it. Except one of my brother’s favorite things to do was create...