gravel road girl

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Hope or insanity

I encountered hope tonight. In the dusky evening as I peered into my much cluttered garden shed looking for a rake, I stumbled over it—hope—not the rake. Not surprisingly so. To be honest, it happens every fall. But after such a tragic summer, I thought it might be different. Yes, I said tragic. Not a perennial was purchased. Nary a well-endowed sedum was divided. Melons shriveled on the vine. Japanese beetles skeletonized my porcelain berry vine. And I skulked in the house breathing in my stagnant air-conditioned air. It was not a summer for gardeners. Even this fall I’ve turned a cold shoulder to my yard. Purple cone flowers stand like charred aliens taunting me with their gazillions of seeds they will drop with the first mighty wind. Who cares—go ahead! Mats of iris tubers, their brown and sickly leaves pointing shriveled fingers to the sky, demand to be dug, divided, and put to bed in some soft, tilled earth. But I shove my hands deeper into my pockets, kick a rock out of the grass, and return to my stagnant furnace-heated air inside. I’m jaded.

But tonight, in search of a rake for my husband, I ventured into my shed. Remnants of the summer’s disappointments blocked the door—watering cans, garden stakes, grass seed, hoes and shovels. I tentatively picked through it hoping not to disturb spiders or mice. A dozen gangly tomato stakes battled me until I soundly banished them to a corner. Bending to gather and stack a train-wreck of plastic plant containers, I encountered hope peering back at me. Each of these containers had a plant tag still attached—Lady’s Mantle, Pink Wave Petunia, Munsted Lavendar , Rocket Snapdragon, Purple Penstemon. Ah, yes, such sweet friends in those soft, gentle days of early summer. Maybe next spring I’ll finish edging the bed with Lady’s Mantle. Hope. I reach to retrieve a cobwebby humming bird feeder and lift it to hang on a nail. Poor things. Maybe the sweet, red bee balm—a hummer’s favorite–will fare better next summer. Hope. I hang shovels, corral plant markers, stand watering cans in a tin-soldier row. Certainly next spring we’ll have apple blossoms, and the beetles won’t be so bad. Hope.

Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And maybe that’s a little bit the way gardening can be. I drive myself crazy every year coddling my cantaloupe, propping up my snap peas, and seeking revenge on horn worms. But I have hope.

The Teacher

O.k., I realize I’m not much of a blogger if I only blog once-a-month. But it’s not that I haven’t tried. Really. I’ve written the same blog TWICE, saved it, and have come back only to find that I can’t find it! I’ve come to the conclusion that the Lord doesn’t want me to write that one right now. So in my determination to get something written, I thought about the lessons of persistence, diligence, and hard work that I’ve tried to teach my kids. Case in point: Seth’s school on Monday. It consisted of Ag.101, Work Ethic 301, Nature Appreciation 105, and Time Management Skills 205.

Agriculture 101:In this class Seth was asked to help his mother clean up her pathetic garden and flower beds.This required much raking as well as loading leaves into the garden trailer, hauling them to the burn pile, and dumping them. In the garden he was to assist in picking up unharvested (mushy) tomatoes and throwing them in a bucket. Cutting and disposing of other dead plant material was also necessary. Skills learned: how to clean up the yard/garden before winter.

Work Ethic 301: This upper level class is a continuation of previous skills that have yet to be mastered. It is a refining of “working diligently at a job until it is completed.” It also repeats the lesson of “do your best work no matter what the job is.” New lectures included “You don’t know what hard work is until you’ve detasseled corn” and “The more you complain the longer this will take.” The student should not be discouraged in failing this class as all of his siblings had several refresher courses.

Nature Appreciation 105: This was the most delightful class of the day. Often the teacher pointed out to Seth the Canada geese gathering across the road to gorge themselves on the field corn. Or we were frequently interrupted by our three adopted kittens come to chase leaves in the garden. (It’s pretty much a law of nature that you have to stop to play with kittens cavorting at your feet.) Other sightings of fall birds, beautiful clouds, or lingering flowers were pleasant and allowable distractions for this class. Skills learned: our God is an amazing Creator.

Time Management 205: This can be a highly frustrating class for both pupil and teacher. The difficulty in teaching Seth (or any elementary age child) the proper and efficient use of time is the well-known Warped-Time Continuum. Let me explain: if the child is watching cartoons or playing a computer game, then he “has only been doing this for twenty minutes!” when in actuality it’s been an hour and a half. But if he is cleaning his room or working in the garden, then he’s “been working for an hour!”(actually fifteen minutes). The goal of this class is to teach the student that working persistently is important. Keep at it; finish it up; use your time well. Skills learned: much can be accomplished in a short time if you keep at it. Subskill: complaining doesn’t get you anywhere.

While Seth continued working in these life skills classes, the teacher (me) continued her graduate degree in parenting. Her classes included Patience 805, Prayer 1105, Life Perspectives and Priorities 901. The wisdom, knowledge, and abundant mercy and grace of her Teacher keeps her coming back to class daily. It is highly doubtful that she’ll every complete her degree, but she’s o.k. with that.

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