It was the summer before I began high school. I had just turned 13, and my spirit was roiling with enough hormones, nerves, and angst to power a revolution. Well, enough to have my father invite me to join him for a chat on the living room sofa.
I sat beside him articulating all that was wrong with the world–the inequity, wars, poverty, and injustices–and how frustrated I felt to see adults seemingly tolerate all of this without solving these problems.
I remember my father saying, “Honey, what may help is to use your power where you are. Just focus on what you can do and change, and then grow from there.”
We had many such conversations, covering a wide range of topics, but I always hang my heart on the memory of those words when I’m frustrated with the world. They’ve certainly echoed rather resoundingly this year, and most recently this past week, when we faced a forecast of three nights with far-below freezing temperatures.
Last month, the temperatures were into the 80’s, warming the earth and coaxing all kinds of plants to grow and bud almost a month ahead of former schedules. (I’ve stopped applying the word “normal” to my gardening experiences; it’s no longer relevant or useful.) The forecast posed a threat to our gardens that we had to address or risk the devastating losses of new and old friends.
So, out came every dropcloth, every cat and dog blanket, every old sheet and towel, a few sweatshirts, and every spare quilt or blanket we could find. The older and hardier perennials would survive, I reasoned, but the tender babies, the seedlings, and the infants we’d planted last autumn needed careful swaddling. The clematis, Japanese maple, lavender, infant fruit trees…it took hours to cover them all, and the yard looked like a tornado had picked up a village rummage sale and dropped it over the gardens.
Of course we were rushed and trying like mad to cover the plants, and then had to scavenge for logs and rocks to hold our covers in place against the cold winds, but later, when I looked out from the living room, I realized I could have coordinated the colors and patterns a bit more skillfully…in its utter lack of tasteful design, the general impression certainly spoke to our frenzy.
Phillip rightly reminded me that people passing on the bike trail would not be judging my choices in fabrics or their placement, but it really looked ghastly. And, more to the point, I worried it wasn’t enough.
Over the next three nights, I kept waking up and peeking outside, as though I could see anything or frighten away the frost. And every morning we dashed around to check the plants, recover anything exposed, and hope we’d get through another night. We checked the hummingbird feeders (which did not freeze) and kept the other feeders stocked with seeds. Wednesday was brutal. Within the span of a few hours, the clouds hurled down snow, then graupel, then hail, and back to snow. Then the winds howled, followed by sunshine and stillness, and then freezing temperatures swept in once more, as though Mother Nature wanted to demonstrate all the variety in her repertoire. At once.
Thursday morning, we spent hours restoring the gardens to a semblance of order. It seems everyone survived. Gratitude falls short in describing the relief and joy we felt peeling away blankets to uncover green tender shoots ready to photosynthesize. Rocks and logs were removed and returned to their proper piles.
Two days of laundering all those groundcovers restocked the pet beds, linen closet, and workshop. Our forecast looks to be above freezing for the foreseeable future. The birds and insects have resurrected in full force.
There are still so many systems, policies, laws, and people I’d like to reform or protect, and while I can certainly address these desires in my writing and voting, I will never have the power to right all wrongs single-handedly. But, as my father told me so very long ago, I can keep trying to tend my little acres, and this week, the joy we felt in protecting our gardens and keeping our winged, crawling, two, four, six, and eight-legged guests safe, reminded me that doing what we can do, while we’re able, is also tending our own spirits and hearts.
Every part of Full Moon is part of us, and as that rises in our consciousness, so does the truth that its borders never end. Once again, I’ve revisited the wisdom my father imparted, what I think he hoped I’d come to understand: when you truly love any acre, any being, any waterway, you love them all and realize you’re intimately connected. You can’t change everything, but you can love it all.
And that love? As Pierre Teilhard said, “Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things…as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value…Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world. Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.”
Gentle peace–and temperate weather–to your week.
© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.