Now that the new school year has started, reading — both books and blogs — is one of those joys that get pushed aside. But I’ve decided to make the effort. That’s why I picked up Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary, a short book that tackles a very big subject: the latter years of the Blessed Mother.
In between her recollections of her actions during her Son’s life, there was one passage that jumped from the page, a paragraph that captured me at this change of seasons.
“I do not often leave the house. I am careful and watchful; now that the days are shorter and the nights are cold, when I look out the windows I have begun to notice something that surprises me and holds me. There is a richness in the light. It is as if, in becoming scarce, in knowing that it has less time to spread its gold over where we are, it lets loose something more intense, something that is filled with shivering clarity.”
Why was Mary staying in the house? Why was light so important to her? Could it be that Mary suffered from Seasonal Affect Disorder, also known as SAD? I know I do. When the sun goes down, my SAD goes up.
Mother’s Day and flowers, flowers and Mother’s Day — the two are so intertwined that it’s nearly impossible to separate them. For most of my life, the day was a chance to give flats or flowering shrubs. It’s also the day that symbolizes the absolute safe time of year to get things in the ground. So for this day, here are a few photos of the azaleas, lilacs, and columbine blooming now and a few words for Mothers everywhere — including my own.
I am so distracted these days, and spring is to blame. There’s the smell of freshness on the breeze, the chirps and calls of birds in the morning, and the daily display of fifty shades of green. All I want to do is work in the yard: clean the beds, rake the lawn, bring out the terracotta pottery, inhale deeply — but I do have a day job that demands much of my time and a post to write.
Writing, though, is near impossible. Spring stimulates all of my senses, and each time I step outside, I am overwhelmed with words, feelings, and adjectives. Rather than write them down, they swirl inside my head as I become lost in the intoxicating world that is spring.
And so, I surrender to those who have already placed their words on paper, words that illustrate the beauty of the gardener’s most magical season.
For this Not-So-Wordless Wednesday post, I thought I would share the words of others, words that could somehow capture my feelings as I stand in the garden clipping some of the final blooms.
“Sorrow and scarlet leaf,
Sad thoughts and sunny weather.
Ah me, this glory and this grief
Agree not well together.”
Thomas Parson, 1880, A Song for September
“For summer there, bear in mind, is a loitering gossip, that only begins to talk of leaving when September rises to go.” – George Washington Cable
There is a definite chatter as I get to work, selecting what’s left among the flowers. Looking at the leggy stems, some of them browned, and the leaves dusted with powdery mildew, I can definitely hear a chorus of pleasantries and goodbyes as the summer guests make their way to the garden gate.
“A late summer garden has a tranquility found no other time of year.” – William Longgood
There is a definite somberness and calmness in the garden today. Perhaps it’s because plants that I have nurtured for so long, some from seed started in February, are leaving after a full season of delivering what was promised — and paying my respects is the right thing to do. Maybe it has to do with the color of the sunlight, warm and golden, fading from the brightness of July. The shadows seem longer, and the colors more muted – and yet, it feels warm and glowing, especially as the sunlight hits the faintest change of color in the leaves overhead. More likely, though, the overwhelming sense stems from a combination of the two — and a little imagination.
“Spring flowers are long since gone. Summer’s bloom hangs limp on every terrace. The gardener’s feet drag a bit on the dusty path and the hinge in his back is full of creaks.” – Louise Seymour Jones
Oh, yes, there’s a lot of dragging and creaking happening by this time of year. I do feel the energy of summer leaving me — or maybe it’s just sympathy pains for the plants. Gardeners, I think, develop a kind of symbiotic (or co-dependent) relationship with their charges. When they sprout, I sprout. When they bloom, I bloom. And when they wither away, a piece of me goes with them also . . .
Until the process starts all over again.
“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” — Gertrude Jekyll
Long before I started writing about gardening, there were lots of other people who had a way with words. Fortunately for all of us, the Internet is a fine resource where their words are not only documented and preserved, but they can also be shared.
When you do some research, it’s amazing to discover just how many quotes there are about gardening. It kind of makes me wonder, “What does it take to be someone whose words live on?” A friend of mine once said that gardening is like a natural surprise party. At the time when she said it, we laughed about it. But you know what? Nearly two decades later, I still say it each season. Usually I say it when a yellow zinnia blooms in a flat of red ones. Surprise! It’s one of those phrases that takes the edge off of any frustration in the garden, and it makes me smile. I think that’s why my friend’s simple sentiment resonated with me.
I started this quest for gardening quotes after my chairperson told me she was retiring and asked me to organize her retirement party. She gave me strict orders that I was not to have a retrospective slide show of her career. But since she’s a gardener, and the theme of the party was a garden party, I created a slide show of gardening quotes and photos.
As I searched the Internet for quotes, I harvested them, savored them, and added them to photos of flowers and vegetables and gardens. Each one seemed to speak of my chairperson’s passions; each one seemed to speak to what I feel and think inside — only that someone else was smart enough, poetic enough, and prolific enough to write it down. And I am — we are — all the better for it.
And now, I’d like to share the slide show with you.
I hope you enjoy it.
Special thanks to macmanx for guiding me through the embedding process.