It is by no one’s fault in particular that the garden this year is of Lilliputian dimensions and rather drab looking. A far cry from last year’s. But such is life. The road reveals itself as you go and gardens have a way of teaching humbleness. Lesson one.
Like parenting. I said it before. The parallel is striking. The temptation to dismiss the less glamorous results and expect excellence cannot lead to growth of any kind. We’d be stalled in deciphering the meaning of it all. Hiccups give a measure of worthiness. Struggles. Lesson two.
Despite its size and abysmal appearance (tours by request, not that anyone would, and no, there is no fee other than accepting the immutable truth that dandelions are not weeds) a garden is a book to read and learn from. Small print like this year’s in particular.
Having never read a garden makes no difference. Learning happens as you step outside in early morning and clumps of dry grass become artesian fountains; instead of water, grasshoppers. They waltz in the morning air, so at home in their long graceful jumps you start wondering in whose garden you all are after all… Be grateful, they seem to say, even a small garden can be shared. Lesson three.
Life is always to celebrate. Dead quiet is scary and sad. Gardens are supposed to buzz, I learn as I crunch my way through towards the tiny pickling cucumbers and miniature beans bushes. Feet want it soft, but the roughness reminds of hot summer air and water too precious to waste on too hungry a lawn to make a difference after all. It’s never about my slight discomfort, visual, physical or otherwise. We’re here to sharpen our sight se we can see the big picture… Sharp sight goes well with softened hearts. Lesson three.
Tiny curled cucumbers befriend leaves that keep them safe from the hot son. What if this garden and its humble harvest was all I had to feed my family? What if? What if no one wasted a bite ever again? What would the ripple effect look like? Humbleness, again. So much to say thank you on any given morning. Lesson four.
Keep on reading gardens. Too small you think? Too dry? They never are… You’ll read in a handful of dirt you pick up, in a leaf that sits in the sun but never burns to a crisp as I would, in the bugs that crawl on the dark green kale… Mysteries. Can you see? Hear? Save time for being where you are, for the one blink that teaches you about how fast everything goes. Lesson five.
As if the garden is not small enough, the bugs make it smaller by eating the kale leaves. Former green lush tongues spike the air as empty stems, sorry looking and slightly confused. Who’s the thief? The nighttime bug show is on every night. I sleep, they crunch and munch their way through the only leaves that made it to full size. We’re only as alive as the world, visible and invisible. Light and dark, up and down, gifts and plundering… Accept it all, choose to not be bothered but enlightened by learning that you’re given challenges as you go. Lesson six.
Boys burst out in the sun, sleepy faces, bug kisses on arms and legs, hugs… reminders. They are one day older, one day closer to learning that it is all in the choices we make. To feel the sun pinching your cheeks, to smell the summer air, to learn that grasshoppers hear with their tummies and to never take anything for granted… not even a small enough garden. Lesson seven.
I pick calendula orange suns. They’ll become golden oil for winter days. I pick lemon balm and mint for tea, basil and tarragon. Small and fragrant. Life abounds. If only I remember to see it. Through the lenses of my Lilliputian garden where sunflowers match the theme. Small. Despite all, it grew. Barely reaching knee height, my only sunflower never considered quitting reaching for the sun. Lesson eight.