• Last modified 2296 days ago (April 12, 2018)


Another Day in the Country

Receiving the gift

© Another Day in the Country

Easter morning, I found myself in California.

Instead of wind and chill, like the days had been in Kansas, the Napa Valley was warm, balmy, still. No wind.

Everything was green because of abundant rains during the early months of the year; it was raining up until a few days of my arrival.

The warm weather was a complete change of season, like walking into spring!

In the quiet of early morning, while some of the family were still sleeping, I went out to survey my old kingdom.

This plot of ground, with all its different incarnations of improvement, has belonged to my family for almost 50 years. There are a lot of things that have stayed the same in all that time.

On this rise of ground, still volcanic, rocky, with thin soil rich with leaf mold, we had to IMPORT dirt in order to grow anything very deep-rooted.

Ever since I left for Kansas almost 20 years ago, the garden has been fallow. Every spring it rebounds to life briefly while there is still moisture in the soil. Iris bloom, rosemary and wild grapes spring to life, wild oats grow tall, and then it languishes as summer progresses.

Last spring during spring break, I tried planting some vegetables in the forward part of the garden. I planted a couple of tomatoes, some pole beans, and two cucumber plants. I asked my grandson if he’d water them for the two months I’d be gone, so that when I returned for our summer vacation, we’d have the beginnings of a garden to enjoy.

He hasn’t grown up gardening. In families where everyone is working at “off site” jobs with a commute, gardening can be an unnecessary chore instead of a joy. So, who would have time to show a child about gardening?

But I thought I’d give it a whirl, just in case this was something he could honestly do. It’s a chore pulling hoses to get water down to that garden area. I think the big thing was remembering! What 10-year-old remembers watering plants?

When I returned, everything was dead except for one valiant tomato plant.

Amazing that this one survived on its own, but it wasn’t robust. I discovered it was because this poor plant wasn’t getting enough sunlight to really flourish. Because of years of growth in the surrounding trees, my garden area, now, was mostly in the shade come summer.

The next step was to transplant that valiant tomato into a pot and move it up closer to the house, ever mindful of deer that brazenly graze on our patch of green grass next to the house.

Needless to say, we never saw tomatoes from that mini-garden.

As I walked through the yard at Easter, I saw a lovely sprig of yellow flowers blooming on the path: Freezia. Now those aren’t California wildflowers. I’d planted Freezia bulbs years ago on the grave of some beloved pet in the flower garden; but not on the path.

“It’s the moles at work,” I told my grandson. “They are always moving things around.”

By the time I finished my meander around this small acreage, I had a handful of flowers, some wild, some cultivated. There were wild bluebells, blue-eyed grass, vetch, and poppies, scattered through the grass. And, of course, those traveling yellow freezia. In the flower bed, iris were starting to bloom and purple African daisies were flourishing. In pots on the porch, geranium plants that I have pruned, rooted, and fertilized for years were a riot of color.

Spring is the season of renewal, with its religious celebrations of resurrection, the natural world around us comes forth in all of its glory without us lifting a finger. Grass grows, tulips push up through the dirt and bloom without any effort on our part. The miracle of life calls them forth.

Nature is such a miraculous gift to us, if we will but stop and notice. It’s always giving, of course, whether we pay attention or not; but the miracle occurs when we stop, notice the gift, and receive the gift on another day in the country.

Last modified April 12, 2018