The Garden: The Stages

I’ve been in the garden, gardening, planning to garden, and looking forward to gardening all my life.  Which is to say:  there are discernible phases to life, and the garden keeps reminding me.

There is the garden in spring.  The ground is warming.  Things all around are sprouting and budding.  I have gathered seed and plants, and I am planting.  It’s such an enthusiastic, hopeful time.  Every seed and plant that I sink into the ground is a kind of love-making with the planet with a hope toward the future.

There is the garden in the midst of summer. The garden has leapt into life all around me.  Plants are tall.  Air is hot.  Soil is deeply warm, and flowering, fruiting and producing are in full force.  All I really have to do is walk in the garden and hold out my hand, marvel, do minor tending, and smile.  A lot.  I also sweat a lot, because the heat, the intensity and the harvest are so HOT!

There is the garden in the fall.  The garden is still full of life. Now, the flowering and producing have turned to seeds.  Many beautiful birds have come to feast on the seeds of flowers and plants that are shutting down for the year.  Colors are beginning to change, but largely the garden is still full.  The fullness speaks of endings, though, and I can feel both a relief that the work is coming to and end and a slight sadness for the end of the fruitful furor.

There is the garden in the starkest days of winter.  It’s all just gone, brown, frozen, dead.  The earth is showing where dead leaves are blown back.  There is a silence that is stark but also inviting.  How can a garden so utterly devastated by the cold also feel so comfortable, so inviting, so quiet?  And, She invites me to dream of the Spring to come. To plan, the garden to be.

There is the garden within me. Whether I have a garden out of doors or not, this garden is really that life force within me, and it knows its seasons, its changes, it’s joys, sorrows, works and rests.  It is an eternal garden. It shows me my life and my death, my beginnings and endings, my creativity and fallow times.  For all of this, I give thanks.

Bob Patrick

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