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The Day’s Delight: “My” Garden

I walked the gardens tonight and felt so fond and proud of all the plants– and amazed that there they were, coming up again without me having done a thing, other than make sure the heap of bikes got moved before the ground warmed up.

A perennial flower garden is one of the richest things I know. I suppose an orchard would feel the same: so much sweetness and beauty that exists because someone else knelt in the dirt and tended something they couldn’t take with them.

I don’t know who planted the peonies, or how old they are. The irises were mostly already there, but some came from a neighbor. The phlox (in three colors) once grew in my grandma’s enormous garden at the edge of the corn-and-soy bean field. So did the wilder of the tiger lilies, the best rhubarb that exists, and at least one of the purple coneflower plants or black-eyed susans.

I dug out rocks and sifted gravel. I removed sod and almost maniacally expanded into the lawn. I gently uprooted cedar seedlings from the middle of a ski trail and planted them along the periphery. I spent two whole summers digging out the choking lily of the valley that had gotten into everything.

Soon I’ll have a new plot of dirt to play in, a gently sloping southern stretch that holds all kinds of mysteries: how much is clay? Can my back (and lily-smooth hands) take a month (or three) of digging sod? Does my new house even have a spigot for a hose??

But I’m so excited. So much so that the trip out west that I’ve been longing for and dangling like a carrot for ages is just going to have to wait a bit. I still can feel how good it was to work until nearly midnight, house lights on and a headlamp sweeping the dark corners last Summer Solstice. I’m a Northerner, and while the extreme withdrawal from the world in November and December as the light dies isn’t something I’d give up (did it once, didn’t like it), the high swing of June in the garden, of just pausing to “do a little weeding” and finally standing up three hours later and exhaling is the happiest I know how to feel. And the most human. Which is maybe the whole point and the exact same thing.

Soon, my little friends– soon!


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