Emily at Chatting at the Sky has invited us to share What We've Learned in May. Most of my lessons this month have been learned in the garden. Mother Nature is a kind and patient teacher, if we listen to her.
I can look at my vegetable garden and see the weeds in the mulch, the tools left out overnight, the death of a squash plant in a planter. Or I can look at my vegetable garden and marvel at the growth of tiny seeds into beautiful plants. Life is full of weeds and chores and loss. But Life is also full of growth and opportunity and beauty.
I can see the lettuce and spinach rows with holes in them, I can chide myself for planting lettuce too late in the season, too far apart, not knowing how to "properly" grow mesclun mix in tight, close quarters for easy harvest. Or I can be proud of myself for trying something new, for following through on my commitment of tending to the garden regularly, for committing to the trial and error process of actually digging in the dirt and learning by doing rather than just reading about it online. Don't be afraid to try something you know nothing about. Maybe it won't work perfectly. But maybe it will be imperfectly wonderful.
I can see the "great mulch plains" and be dissatisfied with how long it takes to create a perennial garden from nothing. Or I can focus on the blooms we have, the fact that we were able to save the weeping cherry tree with some tender loving care, the fact that the birds are flocking to our feeders every day bringing their bright colors, fun antics and sweet song to our back yard. Good things take time to develop - gardens, friendships, wisdom. And while they're developing, there are wonderful things to see and do along the way.
I can mourn the loss of the candytuft and penstemon in this part of the garden, and be angry about the horrible soil the previous owners of our home left in this area, cursing them and blaming them for my garden's failures. Or I can own up to the fact that I planted these plants in this horrible soil without amending it, even though I know better. I can take responsibility and ownership for my actions and their results. And that pretty much always leads to a better outcome the next time around.
I can be frustrated that even after a month, the edging of this border has not been completed, with eight feet in the back still getting grass all up in its business. I can look at those returning weeds with hatred and frustration, and begrudge the time that it's going to take to remove them. Or I can be thankful that the bed is almost completed, and take pride in the accomplishment of the hard work that has gone into it so far. And I can chill out about the weeds, because unless we hire an army of garden helpers to tend to them on a daily basis, there will always been weeds somewhere in the yard waiting to be pulled. And that's ok.
I can look at these orange and red blanket flowers and think "ugh, why would anyone put those fiery hot colors into the garden on purpose?" Or I can be grateful that the previous owners put those flowers into the garden, because they're the only thing blooming in this new bed, and have been bringing color and happiness to this area for quite a few weeks. I might have preconceived ideas about what I like and what I want. But when things show up that I never thought I wanted, sometimes that's exactly what I need to get me through.
I can look at this border and be frustrated that we've not gotten any mulch ordered and spread out. Or I can admire the way that the verbena 'Homestead Purple' pops against the chartreuse of the golden euonymus shrub and the dark red loropetalum in the back yard and the silvery green of the iris foliage. And I can look forward to next spring when these new plants will be lush and full and positively bursting with color for weeks at a time. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.
I can be sad that the beautiful magnolia bloom only lasts a short while until it fades and dies. Or I can appreciate each magnolia bloom while its here, and look forward to the new blooms that are coming along. Life is short. Enjoy it while you have it. And if you're mourning the loss of something or someone wonderful, don't forget that life goes on and Life is still beautiful, even after the loss. (Miss you and love you, Dad.)
This is the third nest of mockingbird eggs we've found in the yard. The first two nests were destroyed by some predator or another, and eight little baby birds never made it out of their nests alive. I can look at this new nest as an inevitable dinner meal for the evil predator, and be sad and cynical about the pointlessness of the mama and papa mockingbird's efforts. Or I can look at this new nest is a reminder the cycle of life and and fact that even when you lose, you have to keep trying. And even if life takes your precious things away from you, there is still something new and good to look forward to.
Chatting at the Sky: What We've Learned in May