Reflections on a Vocational Happenstance
"And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed
and every morning revealed new miracles."
Frances Hodgson Burnett
May is my busiest garden month. I have several perennial flower beds that need tending before the season gets too far underway. Hundreds of plants reside in these beds, popping up now in early Spring to bloom once more.
Debris must be removed, the soil needs aerating, cramped plants want dividing. I spread yards of mulch, first watering with a delicious compost "tea". I relish the blend of creative and physical energy this work requires.
After the beds are made ready for the new year, reshaped and rearranged a bit, I wait to see what happens next. And what happens next is always a Miracle.
It's one thing to decide to cultivate monarda didyma because you've read it is a premier native nectar plant and a favorite of both humingbirds and bees; quite another thing to watch it grow and bloom and see the bees and hummingbirds appear and enjoy it, just as I hoped. Hummingbirds migrate from Central America each year, all the way to my stand of bee balm here in Delaware County, New York. What more proof of miracles could anyone need?
I also have a peony plant in my yard. Next month each supple stalk will be weighted down with a spectacular bloom. Before opening the hard round bud will be visited by ants, which will busily gather up a sweet nectar they find there, some 18" or more from the ground. After the bud opens, the ants will disappear. Some people say the peony won't bloom without the ants, others that the ants protect the peonies from other pests, some that the ants just love the nectar. What I know is that buds will form, ants will come and munch a lot, and then the peonies will bloom in gorgeous riot. All this with no more effort on my part than a bit of initial tending of their bed in May. In other words: A Miracle.
You know I love knitting. I knit every day and take delight in the process of making things to keep people warm. But knitting is not like gardening.
The results from the hours I spend knitting are entirely of my own doing, for better or for worse. If I don't knit, nothing happens; mine is the only energy at work. Knitting in that regard is pretty much a zero-sum activity. As beautiful or useful as any finished piece might be, at no point in the process does it have any life of its own.
When I finish writing to you this morning, I will walk outdoors and look for today's garden miracles, which I am certain are waiting there for me to find.
And this is Joy.