gardening, spiritual life

Going to seed

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish writer

Were goldfinches not so insanely cute, I wouldn’t be nearly so tolerant. They’re out there, right now, snarfing down the same seeds that I hope to harvest for next year’s crop of annuals. It’s as if the strings we tied around particularly handsome specimens — to set them apart for collection — are a come-and-get-it flag. Those are the flowers they seem to prefer.

It’s an easy enough problem to solve. Sometime today, I’ll wrap what’s left of the chosen blooms in tulle and tie them shut. Problem solved. Sort of.

In truth, the goldfinches are everywhere, helping themselves to a yardful of zinnias, cosmos, black-eyed Susans and the like. I generally don’t mind — the garden is planned with the delight of butterflies and birds in mind, in fact. But, this year, it’s a fight to keep the entire garden from shutting down as soon as Labor Day.

Drenching rain throughout the summer brought explosive growth. And, it seems, there’s only so much activity a flowering plant — annual or perennial — can handle in one season. A crop of flowers that usually extend into October is clearly waning, going to seed in as spectacular of a way as they shot up from the ground and then flowered in fairy-garden fashion.

It’s true. There will be no fall bouquets on the table this year. But, Lord willing, there will be plenty of seeds — and that is a pleasure in itself even though it is coming earlier than I’d like. One daughter and I particularly enjoy marking the seed heads, letting them dry on the plant, harvesting them and shaking each tiny crop into a glass vial. We drop tiny strips of cardstock in each one before they are finally stored away against the winter. This last part is done for pleasure. It’s not as if we haven’t done this long enough to recognize what we’ve got without a label.

Actually, all of this gardening business is done for pleasure. The planting, the pruning, the amused raising of eyebrows at goldfinches who play he loves me, he loves me not with our best blooms. This watching of one season flowing into another, one generation making way for another, making provision for another.

It’s good. It’s God. It’s life. It’s hope. And, that is enough.

 

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