I’ve been collecting seeds this week, hollyhocks & nasturtiums, and it has reminded me again of how much the garden can teach us. Gardens are about looking forward, having the patience to wait for beauty and abundance, and believing that the day will come when the tiny seeds you plant will bloom and fruit.
Collecting seeds, and storing them for the seasons to come, is an act of hope, really. It’s saying that I believe I will be here next season to plant them, that these little seeds will produce the plant or the fruit that will delight and nourish, that the soil and sun and water will continue providing for our little blue planet in the same way that they always have, for my grandparents, my mom, and now me.
While my mom had a really green thumb, she was a working mother all her life, and wasn’t always able to spend the time in the garden that she would have liked. But once she retired, and lived with us, she was the most wonderful grandmother, and her passion for gardening was renewed. Our front yard was always awash with color every season. Each new planting, we would participate in a ritual, where she and I would tour the garden borders together, and discuss the pros and cons of each new flower. I took comfort in her confidence that the little scraggly periwinkle would make it, or that the carrots would definitely be large and abundant that year. She was always right.
But the moment in the garden that I remember most fondly, is a small and ordinary one, at the very end of her life. My mom died of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was a brave warrior, but in the last months, life was difficult for her. Yet, despite the many challenges, she was still mobile and would often sit on her back patio, and simply enjoy the warm summer sun and the garden that she had so long tended. One day, she was sitting quietly on her garden rocker, when I saw her stand up, pick up her garden shears that were near by, bend down and begin trimming back her irises. Though she would not live to see her irises flower that year, she gardened as if she would. That brief moment was a gift to me.
My mom the gardener, who was always planning for spring. And who lived her life with hope and joy, awaiting the next bloom.