Archive for March, 2012
Often I watch with amusement how our dog Zeti in a manic burst of intensity, circles her bed scratching fiercely at invisible lumps. She looks about to settle and then with another burst of agitation, performs the same pointless ritual. Do you ever find yourself doing the same thing – gyrating around the circle of your mind trying to land comfortably in that perfect but elusive place of rest? I certainly do – and springtime in the garden only exacerbates this lunacy.
Did you know that the word ‘frenzy’ refers to an ‘uncontrolled state or situation’? The garden here at Stonehaven appears to be in a frenzy: uncontrolled winter detritus lurks in every corner, bushes and trees are popping with growth demanding fresh pruning or transplanting. Bulbs shoot out green and lush growth and now, before blooming is a great time to separate them (when I can still find them.) We are almost a month ahead of schedule, so I dither around questioning if it is time to plant vegetable seeds, or bring out my semi-tropicals who are desperate for resuscitation after being indoors. Is the sudden return of winter inevitable? And then there are all those ‘big projects’ that I have been dreaming about all winter. Every year in the fall, I tell Uli to remind me in spring not to construct more cultivated garden space – but alas this place constantly evokes fresh visions of color.
As I write I am quite aware that it is not spring that is in frenzy- it is moi – the gardener who feels it is her duty to order the magnificent springtime world of teeming growth. Spring’s nature is unpredictable and always abundant. All the chopping, pruning and digging is my work response to attempting to tame nature’s profusion. Why do we do it? Maybe you are not a gardener, but if you are like me you delight in bringing a certain rearrangement of perfection to this earth – and each of us has a very clear idea in our mind of what that looks like, or feels like (like the dog!) Still if I am frank, much of the work I do is quite unnecessary other than the sheer joy of artistry which is the breathing life of my soul. Thus for now, it has become essential to being all that I am on this earth, and each movement a seed of prayer for multiplication of love’s labors.
I am delighted this year for the first time to have professional help with all the hard physical work. As you see here the fire-pit has been reworked so we can have larger circles for celebration – we couldn’t have done it without great help from the live-in Stonehaven community. Robin especially; he is a gifted horticulturalist who now is teaching me. He didn’t know it but he arrived as an answer to a very loud call for help I uttered on the back NW corner of the property late last fall. A few days later he knocked on the door, looking for a place to live in the midst of major transition in his life. Like the other folks who live here now, or all those who have used this temporary mailing address, we offer this place as a restful place to settle or scratch around for a while. A ‘tenemos’, a sheltered safe space where you are allowed to go round and round in circles – mourning, thinking, learning, dreaming – searching for comfort for as long as you need until you are ready to move on again.
Today I wonder how to remain at rest in the midst of the springtime unpredictability of life’s passages? Maybe we can all learn to work with less frenzy, not pushing against the natural passage of time by letting go our anxiety to achieve perfection. Life is remarkably messy, but my experience tells me that work and play can be of great pleasure when I let go of my human demand for control. For the first time I have another gardener working here with me: he has his own ideas, his own ways of doing things and I am aware of the struggle and wonder there is in sharing the work load and creating something new together. We are finding our way in a new work partnership. It is a new season here at Stonehaven – it is spring and so much is happening inside and outside all our lives.
How do you deal with springtime frenzy? I’d love to hear back from you!
It’s that stretching season again – early spring – those days when we strain our heads into the future, reaching away from the dark roots of winter that attempt to freeze us in place. This is often the season for false starts, wishful prayers and jack-rabbit leaps of faith. One 55 degree day last week, in my imagination that spring had arrived (a month earlier than advised), I planted peas and spinach outside. It’s a long shot because to be more realistic, these can be some of the most bone-chilling days of the year, when wind driven icy-cold rain chills the marrow of hope, when patience is tested, when human need for action cripples the tender sprouting of true soul growth that always takes place in its time.
This past week I have sat in mud-encrusted trenches planting asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries and also struggled with the complexity of paradox: aware of a dear friend in ICU, of underemployed loved ones who plod forward faithfully in the wasteland of economic gloom, of the death of a colleague and daily watching our aging dog Zeti, loll in the sunshine – she now chronically limps and has precipitously gone deaf.
Delighting in outdoor work with a healthy body and mind, I am stirred with all of this as I haul huge stones around the land; walking inside shoes that get heavier with each muddy step forward. I see the first rock iris and the first bold crocus press their colorful faces out of the damp earth, and I feel the tug of death and the foreboding shadows of the unknown. It is no wonder that we as gardeners relish the indoor seed flats that are beginning to sprout with the promise of lush summer bounty! There is a certain assurance that all will be well in the world when the plant stand springs fluorescent lights again.
I believe that my work in the world is to keep on planting: like a farmer, whether it is sowing words, or seeds, or simple actions; each breath becomes a prayer holding the promise that life will return across the planet and to next door. This week I have been delighted when dead mentors arise and inspire me with hope, lives that still bring inspiration across the span of time. Like M.C Richards and her book ‘Centering’ written in 1962, which found its way into my hands and heart. It is packed with new/old treasure I am exploring.
Examine the picture of these shriveled, white asparagus roots – looking like spooky dead spiders perched on top of almost a foot of last year’s composted dinner peelings and garden detritus. Behold – magnificent symbols of resurrection!
And today when I read of tornado devastation in Kentucky and all week hold the plight of the suffering in Syria, I cannot shut my eyes and ears to the cries of pain. I continue to plant hopeful seeds into the ground at Stonehaven, into my novel writing, and into people’s messy lives. Practically speaking, how do you continue to act with the hopeful energy of spring while holding winter’s sorrow? I’d love to hear from you here. Please respond to this blog in any way – it’s all about enjoying the harvest of hard work performed within the deep and soulful circle of paradox.