Gardeners, All

DSCF4107Such a splendid week we’ve had at Full Moon Cottage! We’ve been breathing gratitude, along with the sweet scent of geosmin, the organic compound released by active little actinomycetes as the earth reheats in spring. Like earth’s signature sachet, it evokes a million memories of gardens I’ve tended and loved since I was a child. DSCF4112The comforting reliable signposts assuring us that spring has arrived and is busily establishing her known rhythms has caused our enthusiasm and energy levels to rise like sap and respond by honoring the rituals this time of year calls forth: opening windows, cleaning and winnowing through closets, washing rugs and curtains, and going outside as often as possible to notice homecomings and welcome back old friends. DSCF4233 DSCF4265The Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes have been winging in on great southerly winds crying out, “Here we are! Here we are!” The male birds—cardinals, chickadees, flickers, jays–are establishing territories and will be seeking mates for nesting, so I’m scattering pet hair and dryer lint, and continuing to fill the feeders. Our owls make their presence known, as do the bossy crows, and this morning, Phillip heard a robin’s song. DSCF4171 DSCF4173The river’s coat of ice is melting away. A lack of winter snow has caused the water level to be quite low this year, so we’re hoping for rains, but just to see the water sparkle in sunlight touches and begins to thaw every frozen particle lodged in our winter hearts. The long months of chilled confinement have ended; winter’s dark and snarled mind knots loosen and dissolve, allowing our spirits to flow. We’ve been laughing more this week. DSCF4223It’s too soon to get into the gardens, but at least I can see them again, and am trying to locate the very detailed list I made last autumn of all the uprooting, dividing, and replanting I had planned for this spring. Of course, first, we have to wait and see who did, and who did not, survive the bitter cold and lack of adequate snow cover we experienced until late winter. Ever hopeful.

I remember my first garden, when I was about eight, and the deep joy I felt planting my bachelor buttons, moss roses, zinnias, and cosmos. Every morning, for weeks, I dashed from bed to garden, pajama-clothed and barefoot—a habit that endures—to examine the earth for signs of green life. I weeded and watered and spent most of that summer immersed in “my” garden, as I have ever since. Daddy had encouraged this, utterly, and supported my dreams of color and blossom; Mama didn’t garden, but supported everything that gave me joy. I took it for granted that everyone had parents who so lovingly tended their dreams. DSCF4082 DSCF4086 Until I can grab a rake and trowel and get going this spring, my garden jones is satisfied at school, where, led by our intrepid team of visiting Master Gardeners, we’ve spent a few weeks planning, and are now planting seeds for this year’s garden. The little pots will sit in long trays on counters in the school’s basement, warmed by grow lights and watered from the bottom. DSCF4088 DSCF4089It gladdens my heart to see how joyfully and naturally the children connect with these activities. They cannot always name the steps or tools involved in gardening, or even evidence familiarity with the resulting food, but they so merrily dig into buckets of soil and so tenderly plant seeds in tiny, plastic earth-filled homes. I think there’s nothing so healing, creative, or natural as gardening.  

The children’s spirits have been thawing, too, and warmer days have increased their energy, and the need for its release and creative expression. Their city skyline artwork turned out beautifully. DSCF4035 DSCF4037 DSCF4038 DSCF4044I was stopped in my tracks, though, when more than one child asked where in their skyline the jail should be represented, or a child showed me his city and identified a building as “the prison.” Once again, I was reminded that the familial, reliable, and seasonal rhythms in which I have always taken comfort and joy are very different from those circumscribing the lives of many of my students. Sometimes their behavior is angry and puzzling, and then comments like these reveal the missing pieces, and my heart breaks open, creating spaces for new seeds of understanding to be planted.

Phillip and I talk, often, of our students and the ways we might touch their spirits and hearts, and give them hope, or a bit of light to companion their journeys. It’s not likely they’ll remember us, but will they remember that a teacher once told them how special, and precious, and gifted they are? When they doubt their purpose, or lose their way, or struggle to make the right choice, will they feel rooted in courage and reach for a light-filled path? DSCF4229Breathing in the wonders and invitations of spring, I’m reminded that we are all stewards of each other as well as of the earth, and that how we prepare, nurture, and tend one another’s spirits is our calling as humans and, certainly, as teachers. Not everyone was gifted with present and loving parents who cultivated their gifts and wonder from the beginning, and we all have dark spaces that can be filled with self-doubt and self-loathing, or planted with promise and loved into bloom. DSCF4125 DSCF4126 DSCF4129We may never see the amazing blossoms and glorious results we have helped create, never be identified as one of the gardeners, but we must, over and over, plant the seeds of possibility, expectation, and affirmation, and shower them with love. DSCF4066Ever hopeful; gardeners, all.

Merry new spring and joyful planting! DSCF3682


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8 thoughts on “Gardeners, All

  1. This post seemed to be written for me! Right now…I’ll come to that….
    Seeing your wildlife held me captive, so wondrous, and special, and…still ..they are all coming back! Nature is so precious in our ever changing climate, so it’s wonderful to see that! Fingers crossed, all is on track in your part of the world.
    Seeing the artwork, the children, and talk of prison, and the way you planted seeds, literally and in hope for the future really moved me. The way you wrote about it in terms of planting a seed in your heart was memorable too, struth, the way you have with words is such a gift!
    This week, the rescue have asked me to do a thing with teenage school kids, it’s all linked to them training as reporters and connected to the BBC, so about ten of them will bombard me with questions, that I don’t know, and I’m all ego and worrying about it, I like to talk to people, not camera’s….and it will go public….ego,ego,ego…
    Then I read this post, and it has done me the power of good. I have no ego to defend, not really, I don’t want to let anyone down, but now…thanks to you, I will just think of those kids, and any possible audience, and think about influencing them, and do my best for them, and the animals we care for. Sorry to waffle on, and on about me, but this was a timely wake-up call….get over myself it screams!
    Such a beautiful post in so many ways, the artwork is stunning, thank God those kids have people like you and Philip! Hoping all is well with the cats and Clancey and there is no more creepiting into the basement! You are a total star!!!! xxxxx


    1. Oh, Dina, what a wonderful gift–actually, a treasure trove–you have to offer those students and everyone who views their work! You know so much about the rescue and its financial needs, its precious lodgers, and its hopes for future care…it is so important to your community and to the greater world, and you’re so passionate and so keenly able to share those small stories that touch hearts deeply. I send my love and blessings: I cannot wait to hear how well you do with this! What a great opportunity. I’m glad you’re brave enough to see it for what it is, and give it your amazing best. Love, love, love to you!


    1. Thank you so much! I’m so glad you visited and allowed me the link to return to your wonderful blog as well. I’m sorry I lost it this past winter but what a gift to have it back again! Joy to you, and gentle peace.


  2. A very beautiful post, Kitty. Yes, you were very lucky that your parents encouraged your dreams, and in doing so, they added encouragement and strength to all who would meet you later in life, your students and your friends… and your internet friends too… on and on, bringing the garden to some barren fields, and an occasional flower to the prison.


  3. Bless your heart, Shimon, and know that you have decorated my own soul with lovely, lovely bouquets as well. I am most grateful for my childhood, and know that, at points in my life, I’ve fallen short of sharing the wealth such a blessing affords. I have always been so deeply impressed by my friends and colleagues who lacked such initial support and yet made the personal choice, at some point in their young lives, to steer their own craft towards generosity, love, and service. They are my heroines and heroes.

    Blessings on your week, Shimon. May the election go well for your country: maybe the fact it’s on St. Patrick’s Day will bring a bit of luck? 🙂


  4. The kids are very lucky to have you Kitty…Not enough dedicated and loving, concerned teachers anymore. Yes sure, they are dotted hither and yon, but imagine all schools if they were filled with such wonderful beings, the children would go so much further in life. Very frustrating. Glad you are there for them 🙂
    Your snow melt is way ahead of ours. I am still under two feet of snow! I feel blessed because I can see small patches of dirt in spots on the drive way. Desperate! I see that as progress! Crazy. I’ll get there soon I hope. More warmer days now than cold. I am starting to get that impatient rush within to see green again and watch my flowers come up. Guess I’ll have to settle for the seeds growing under the lights for now 😦
    Enjoy your springtime and all its fresh new shades of neon green. Hugs…VK


  5. Hang in there, VK! You know March…yesterday 70; today,40’s. You had so much more snow, too. What a winter! I hope your grow light offers some joy. How great to see your seeds coming along. I want to start some tomatoes and peppers next week and have potatoes chitting, as a friend encouraged me to do.

    I have to say that I’ve known and still work with many dedicated teachers, but our state government has elected to make the career as unattractive and low-paying as they possibly can, so there will certainly be less of us.

    Field trip today…always something. Hope yours is blessed with light and love, VK. You deserve it, that’s for sure. 🙂


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