Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tending & Keeping

I close my eyes and I see weeds. I've spent a couple hours at "The Garden" weeding.

When I moved to Wausau, I made the conscious decision not to plant a garden. I told myself, “With this new job I won’t have the time. And think about resale. You don’t want to have to dig up all your beds and plant grass when the time comes, do you?” (No, I don’t.)

The place I bought has a very small front yard which – it turns out – had no grass but lots of purple coneflower and perennial cornflower (mostly self-seeded) and a pear tree. The first time I saw the house was in early spring so I didn’t know the flowers were there. On closing day, I added some hosta, bleeding heart and such to fill the space.

In full disclosure, I’ve also been cleaning up a pair of nooks on either side of the back entry this spring and filling them with all sorts of other green and flowering plants. But I haven’t dug up any yard. And I won’t.

These spaces could probably keep my down time full as I water and weed (plus mow the backyard) but in February I made a marvelous discovery. I’d heard about the various sites of interest in Wausau since before arriving in July. Not surprisingly, the one with Gardens in its name caught my attention.

Monk Botanical Gardens is a private garden space that’s open to the public year round, dawn to dusk. One cold winter day after being indoors entirely too long, I drove there just to look– it’s only a mile from my house – and the rest is history. I go at least twice a week. I feel a sense of peace sitting in the meditation garden after a long week or having received bad news. Walking around the pond or through the Wildflower Woods, I look eagerly for what's changed since the last time. Are there swifts in the chimney the birders donated?

Now, in June, I still feel that peace. I still find beauty but even more than that I notice the scents and the unique warmth and living presence one feels when one is connected with nature.

A friend suggested I ought to sign up to volunteer  which I did. Now I don’t take as many meandering walks instead I kneel (or sit) and weed. I like weeding – it’s so satisfying. And even with the dozens of volunteers that help there, I can always find work to do.

Someone asked me Saturday how I came to gardening. I don't know. It's been a growing thing (no pun intended). My dad gardened and I helped. I started growing parsley, sage and thyme next to their back door when I was about 15. My mother said recently that I always prefered working outside to doing indoor chores. I hadn't realized.

For me, tending and keeping is about looking after all the ones who are smaller or weaker or who have little or no voice. It's also about doing what I can to ensure that when I leave, my tiny piece of planet earth is no worse than I found it, and maybe a little better.

What does it mean for you?
There’s a season for everything
    and a time for every matter under the heavens... Ecclesiastes 3
A time for weeding at the gardens, a time for tending my own lawn, and a time for indoor chores (ugh).

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