On Plants

Spring has sprung in South Dakota.  At least for today.  Radio man says that it’s supposed to be 50 and dreary for the next week.  But in the sunshine of our single-day spring, I took stock of my garden.  Six out of seven roses bushes survived.  Chives.  Rhubarb.  The parsley garden has begun.  By garden, I mean parsley overtook my entire vegetable garden last year.  Despite my best efforts to control it, I let it win. The entire plot will be grass before the end of the year.   I’ve discovered that I don’t have a knack for gardening.  I prefer the “plant and ignore” method.  Apparently, that’s unproductive.

The only gardening I will tend to this year is the front garden bed that wraps around the front of my house.  I’ve been fighting with that plot since I moved in and I am determined to win.  When I bought the house, prickly bushes filled the plot.  Every time I walked past them, I ruined another pair of nylons. The next summer, I tore them out with dreams of a full perennial garden, much like my mothers.  Except that this plot resides in mostly shade and vibrant flowers don’t thrive.  I finally figure that out after four years of trying.  Last summer, I found a stock of english garden flowers that grow in the shade.  I threw them into the ground and ignored them.  After our especially miserable winter, I had no doubt that my flower bed would again be empty. 

I was wrong.  Several of the plants have returned, green and growing.  Hooray!  Now, if they would only spread and fill the entire bed with beautiful foliage and delicate little flowers, I’d win.

In half. 

The other half that curves around to the side grows weeds.  The weed garden is blooming full force.I’ve dug it up, filled with supplementary soil, added miracle grow.  I’m tempted to resort to a last-ditch effort to plant my mother’s extra iris’.  The ones she dug up and threw away, only to find them growing beneath the garbage cans fifteen years ago.  It seems they will thrive anywhere.  Except that the purple clashes with the peeling red trim on my windows.

So, I’m not much of a gardener but as I was looking over my surviving plants today, last nights blog post popped into mind and I decided that it was unfinished.  I began thinking about plants.  Not English Ivy or Tulips.  But people who have been planted in your life.  Take for example a friend of mine.  I met her many years ago when I was pregnant with Jaz.  She was hired as my co-worker and we became fast friends.  When we met, I didn’t realize that she had been planted in my life for an experience that I would face several years down the road.  An experience that only she could guide me through.

Last year, she was struggling through a long unemployment with no end in sight.  I said to her the most comforting thing I knew.  “You were hired with me all those years ago, planted in my life, because I would come to need you later.  God just hasn’t found the right place to plant you yet.” I hope it gave her some comfort. 

There have been many plants in my life.  Some beautiful and luscious that fill my flower bed with greenery and flowers.  Some are perennials, returning year after year.  My sons godmother who is one of the best supporters in writing that I know, despite an eleven year silence.  The friend I’ve watched grow into a passionate and caring graduate who ignites my passion to change with world and reminds me of hope.  Another friend who always has something nice to say and reminds me that a sincere compliment without reason can change the outcome of a day.  

Other plants survive a few season, leaving a little trace of themselves in your life.  Usually, friends don’t part in heart unless for a falling out.  The friend since High School that spent years calling on you in times of need, but never had time when you called. The man who never found the courage to say the words you needed to hear and let you fall away.  The friend who pushed you away when darkness filled your life.

There are always annuals, who bloom for a month or two, a day, sometimes, even just a moment.  They are as important as any.  The elderly gentleman who spends an hour or two at work sharing his excitement to travel to Washington DC on the Freedom Flight.  The stranger who chases you down to return your empty wallet.  The small child in the grocery store who grants you a shy smile.  Sometimes, it’s the little things.

 Some are weeds.  Actually, a lot of weeds. As I said, I’m a “plant and ignore” gardener.  I’m not up-to-date on all the latest treatments and when to pinch off dead blooms.  I’ve been known to allow weeds to grow in my garden as well.  I have a laundry list of weeds that I’m choosing not to address.  I’d begun to question if it was the quality of the soil in my garden that allowed so many weeds.  I used to be closed off, reserved, and a little scared of kindness.  Many times, I blamed my kindness for the “weedy” people that planted themselves in my life and believed that if I only were less kind, only those who truly cared, the hardy ones would survive.

Of course, I’ve grown a lot since then and realized that it has nothing to do with the soil quality and everything to do with facts.  Regardless of anything you try, weeds will grow and the only way to remove them is to get down on your hands and knees to begin plucking.  The more weeds I remove, I discover that neglected flowers have been in hibernation, holding back until they could fully live to their potential in my life. I’ve also discovered some that are barely peeking out of the ground.  I hope time will tell what flower they will bear.

Hence, my theme for “The Weight of the World”.  There is no external conflict.  No terrorists blow up the local post office.  No bickering friends.  No cheating spouse.  The conflict is completely her own, fighting inside her among the “plants” that have found their way into her life.  I’ve been trying to put the theme into words for over a year now.  As I explained it to one friend, “It has no plot, but it has a plot.  It’s a story, but it’s not really a story.”  Itsy‘s theme is her effort to weed her garden. 

With all of that said, I have a final thought to share.  Unlike real plants, we get to choose what kind of bloom we have.  Whether spindly, colorless, and dry with thorns or full blooms that fill someone elses flower bed with something of substance.  Honesty, sincerity, and kindness blossom when weeds are removed.  Don’t be afraid to pay that compliment to someone you admire.  Thank a friend for “just being a friend”.  Give a crying child a happy wave at the grocery store.  At first, it leaves you feeling vulnerable.  It’s far easier to pretend that they just know.  But vulnerability is honesty. The only other option is to be a weed.  Trust me, there are enough to last me a good night’s work in my flower bed.

Good night and sweet dreams.

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About author A. Lynn

A. Lynn has enjoyed the craft of writing since she finished the songs in Barry Manilow's songs as a five year old, prancing around her grandparents rural farm. Her style has changed as she's grown up. In the past ten years, she's experimented until finding her style and voice. Now, she's ready to take an effort to share her stories with the world. amberlynnk@yahoo.com View all posts by author A. Lynn

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