“Life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.” Leonard Nimoy four days before his death
“To possess ideas is to gather flowers; to think is to weave them into garlands.” Anne Sophie Swetchine
Spring takes guts.
I thought about that yesterday as I dug, planted and lugged mulch. Spring is hard work for a gardener. It is doing what my mother used to call “gut work,” raking out winter dead debris in the beds, transplanting what you failed to do in the fall, digging and putting in new plants, adding compost to aid growth, and beginning the ongoing weeding process. I contemplated gardens and their dependence on focused hard labor, the guts…and the glory of gardening.
Then, my husband, Doug, came out to talk to me. We spoke of an older woman friend who is trying to re-enter life as a widow. She is finding that difficult. I thought of her while I dug out and moved a patch of summer bulbs. I had no choice. They were overgrown, crowding a lilac bush…in effect acting like weeds. As I worked, my two thoughts began to braid together.
Spring takes guts.
Even as life stirs anew, trying to reshape life and grow in new directions, especially after a life-changing shock, is hard.
That is true for all of life, for our friend just as it is for the Stargazer-Lillies I moved. When your old life is ripped away at the roots and change is forced upon you, or even if in other circumstances when you chose a change, new beginnings are hard on the tender shoots of our hearts. Yet, when hibernation is over, life must be nurtured to thrive. That can require new directions, or new places to set down roots, to begin afresh.
Now, please be patient, I want to share several threads of stories for you to braid together with your thought.
First thread: Some of my earliest memories are of my mother gardening. I was born in Ohio and we left when I was six, yet I remember her setting tulip bulbs, pruning a large grape arbor, tending lily of the valley, peony and hollyhocks, and cutting incredibly fragrant purple iris to “bring spring into our house.”
Amazingly, on the last day of her life, a nurse filled Mom’s room with peony and irises, and she left us with the smell of spring in the air. The next fall, I planted irises at our house in Syracuse in her memory.
Another thread: Moving to Edenton was a huge change for us. We had lived in Syracuse for 28 years. New jobs, a new town, and a very different life awaited. We felt like we had when we first got married, when all our lives lay ahead of us, and anything could happen. One of my anythings was creating a real garden.
I put in a few irises people had given me. One of the joys of the South is how many people have gardens and share plants with each other. I was given white “Edenton iris” and lovely yellow ones, and some powder blue, but none of them carried much fragrance.
Finally, about this time last year, I found Pleasant Valley Iris Farm. Their on-line store showcased irises of every color imaginable, some re-blooming, and some labeled fragrant. I struggled to choose, but finally, I ordered several varieties to be delivered in fall, just in time to be planted.
In September, I got a phone call. The valley fire burning in California last fall was headed toward Pleasant Valley. They hadn’t known what would happen, and raced to move the irises from the barn where they were being readied for shipment. At the last minute, the fire turned away and they called. They were sending my order, but in moving the irises, some labels got lost. One of the irises I ordered couldn’t be located. They sent me three unlabeled ones, free, to replace the others…yet of an unknown color. I planted all six varieties in various beds…and winter passed.
Last week, the first of the stunning irises I ordered, these April Jewels, bloomed. They are peach; they are perfect; and they smell divine. Just like Mom’s.
Today, when I went into my garden with my morning coffee, one of the purple ones I planted for mom had bloomed over night, almost as if it was insisting that it be included in this post. (below)
Best of all, four more varieties are still to come…and one will be the surprise color I can’t wait to see. I will treasure them all as a gift life has brought me, and the smell of the blooms will take me back in memory as I bring spring into my house once more.
You see, life really is like a garden…and it gets filled with weeds sometimes….and frost comes and takes some plants away from us…fires rage and threaten to sweep over us. Yet, deep in our roots is life…and spring will come. Spring will come. It cannot stay…summer is right behind and winter will follow. Yet, spring will come. It will always come and move us, and shake us, and renew the life in our hearts, creating new memories and dreams.