Considering the Circumstances

When we began landscaping the large back yard of our current home 2 years ago, some of the plants I wanted to include were oakleaf hydrangeas. Unlike the pretty pink and blue mophead blooms, these flowers are greenish-white when they are young, picking up subtle shades of pink and brown as they age. After new flowers stop coming, the blooms stay on the plant and look lovely as they mature.

The foliage is different, too. Lobed leaves are bright green in spring and fall, turning brilliant shades of burgundy and orange as autumn turns into winter. They are also interesting shrubs in winter since the bark peels back, revealing the dark layer beneath. We planted several at the east end of our back porch where we could watch them as they changed. One plant did not survive the first winter which was more severe than usual. The others have come into their own this year. I almost missed the first blooms since I was seldom outside for weeks during the beginning of my recovery. Part of my determination to aid healing has been to go outside for a few minutes at least each day and walk on the porch if not in the garden. After I discovered the first tight green buds of beginning flowers, I made sure I checked on their progress.

Often, the smallest lessons learned on this porch and others we have called home teach me Garden Grace. While admiring the progress of these blooms, I remembered that these shrubs bloom on the prior year’s growth.

I may not feel very productive or useful in these days of being homebound and restricted, but the healing of bone, body, and spirit happening now may provide my ability to bloom in the future.

“If, then, we desire a simple test of the quality of our spiritual life, a consideration of the tranquillity, gentleness, and strength with which we deal with the circumstances of our outward life will serve us better than anything…It is a test that can be applied anywhere and at any time. Tranquillity, gentleness and strength, carrying us through the changes of weather, the ups and downs of the route, the varied surface of the road; the inequalities of family life, emotional and professional disappointments, the sudden intervention of bad fortune or bad health, the rising and falling of our religious temperature. This is the threefold imprint of the Spirit on the souls surrendered to his great action.”  From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill

Here. Now. This.

Red Baron Peach blossoms, February 28, 2019

Here. Now. This.

Now.

I want to notice.

I want to pay attention

to beauty that won’t wait

to music that may fade

to chances to be kind

 

We planted several fruit trees, including a small Red Baron peach tree in our back yard in 2017. That winter, one unusual hard freeze produced a couple of 19 degree nights so several of the trees did not survive. The little peach tree produced a few leaves in the Spring and stayed with us. Last winter brought more cold than is typical for us. The tree   looked like a 3 feet tall stick. When the roses nearby were blooming in January and February, we often noticed the sad little stick. Then, proving survivorship, it began to bud. The buds swelled to these brilliant blossoms. Four days later, Winter came back with a vengeance. Even though we covered it with a pillowcase, our tiny tree is now a stick again. But the story is not over…

 

Garden Blessing

 garden beauty is not always found in flower beds

among our vegetables nestle shining yellow jewels

 scalloped, frilled, filled with goodness

making us laugh because they are named Pattypans

Among the most unusual of our garden produce, pattypans squash are beautiful and delightful to gather.  The name “pattypan” derives from “a pan for baking a patty”. Its French name, pâtisson,[1] derives from a Provençal word for a cake made in a scalloped mould. I love knowing that my grandchildren help to grow and pick foods for our table. When we sit down for a meal, Nora sings the table blessing she learned at school called the Johnny Appleseed prayer.

Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord

for giving me the things I need – the sun and the rain and the appleseed

The Lord is good to me. Amen!

Starting Over

 

There are countless things that bring my observance of Lent and the daily changes in our garden into side by side meaning for me – changing my heart in the simple practice of being open to wonder. We planted this small Red Baron peach tree less than a year ago. Flooding in our back yard from a hurricane and unusually long hours of severe freezing temperatures during wintertime appeared to defeat the young fruit tree. It stood, a forlorn stick we thought had not pulled through the trials it faced with roots so newly sunk into our soil. Then came a day when leaf buds tentatively swelled and one small blossom appeared as if dropped onto a twig of a branch, followed by 3 more. I see that small wonder every time I look out the windows near my desk. This morning I read excerpts from a book by Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest.. Good words that settled and helped me. The tiny peach tree tells the story too.

“Lent reminds us…conversion is a lifelong process…We never stop starting over.

I fall down. I get up.

Keep marching to the end. Don’t shed your equipment. Keep starting over..”

And when the country priest (who had started over many times in his life) lay dying, he said, “Does it matter? Grace is everywhere.’