This weekend, I did something I’ve never done before - I mulched. If you know me well, you’d also know that those two words don’t really belong together. This city girl grew up in concrete; it’s no surprise that my thumb is more brown than it is green. But something came over me this weekend. My backyard, overgrown with weed from lack of attention, needed some TLC. I walked over to lament its sorry state and found myself pulling one giant weed from the ground. Surprised at how easily it came away from the soil, I pulled another. And then another. And another. And the next thing you know, I weeded, pruned, mulched, and brought the landscape back to life.
Two buckets of sweat later, my backyard became a place in which birds were no longer too embarrassed to be seen. In fact, I think I hear them chirping for their fellow avian friends – there may be talk of a party. I have to say, I am proud of my work, especially since I’ve never done anything like this before. I usually dabble in potted plants (that don’t often last a full season), but an entire backyard is a bit of a challenge. These perennials come back to life without my help, and they just keep growing and growing and growing as long as there’s sunshine and rain. But it’s up to me to give it a little guidance and love so they will beautify our space instead of looking like it’s eating our house.
However, I am still new at this gardening thing. How much water is enough? What’s Miracle-Gro? Do I need weed killers? Fertilizers? Plant food? (What?! I need to feed them? Like goldfish?) What happens when it rains for three days? Will they drown? How do I resuscitate them?
So many questions, but without my fingers in the soil, I won’t really know just how much is too much or too little or just enough. There is no perfect plant to water ratio. No certainty about the weather (heck, even the meteorologists can’t get that right). My action plan for the yard in arid conditions needs to differ from when there is overzealous precipitation, that much I know. But what’s the plan? When there are unwelcome critters, I will yell for My Guy. And he’ll call some other dude (because we’re both equally squeamish city people). I have faith that I will eventually get the hang of it. I’m not aiming to be gardener extraordinaire here. My goal is to not kill my plants before the end of summer. How’s that for baby steps?
Speaking of, gardening is not so different from raising kids is it? They will grow irrespective of what we do to them, but with guidance and love, they may just turn into the kind of people of whom we can be proud. Along the way, we just have to be open to change, unexpected events, anything and everything that life may throw our way. And when it’s time, they bloom into a John Keats poem* - shy petals open to an explosion of beauty, and with it, a joy both fleeting and forever.
But then again, judging from the sad state of this plant, I just hope my parenting skills fare a little better than my gardening skills.
* A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.
This post is in response to this week’s creative prompt, “Open”, over at Maegan’s blog, Madeline Bea. Click on the button below for more information as well as other entries this week.