Thunder is rumbling across the sky sending shivers down my spine, how I do so love the storms of spring. Iron clouds of battleship grey undulate outside my window, rain sluicing down the glass even as it trembles, washing winter's touch from the surface of the world.
Rain is a lovely thing. Its damp entrance does indeed make my bones ache but it accomplishes one thing that even my husband despairs to achieve -- it makes me pause. Traps me inside, leaves the tools and stones and seeds outdoors...and I rest. At the moment, I'm rather relieved as the bruises have accumulated a bit faster than usual lately. Last week I spent seventeen hours on a ladder scraping, sanding and painting the porch ceiling a delicious dark chocolate to match the shutters. Painted the porch and rails, scrubbed the siding to a blinding white (which I fear has been before our purchase of this place since last occurring), potted up the ferns, filled the hummingbird feeder and cleaned the grill in anticipation of long delicious evenings.
I only fell off the ladder once.
And then the roses arrived.
Frustrated with the anemic shrubs that crouched along the front of the house like anorexic tarantulas, I took the plunge and sent off for three rose bushes of a new variety: low on sun, blooms from spring through the crisp of fall, resistant to mold and spot--essentially heaven with honey colored petals.
Did I mention that I've never planted roses before?
Tucked within the neat brown wrapping along with rooted plants, was a small innocuous book. "How To Plant Anything." Page twenty: Roses. Did you know a two foot wide, two foot deep hole dug into the earth for every plant is required? (I certainly did not) Fill the bottom with gravel for good drainage, mix the loam and soil and pile into a cone shape upon which you sill spread out the baby roots which have been soaking for a day....
Two hours past dinner, dusk not far off, I'm on my knees in the front yard. A tear in my jeans leaves smears of black and brown on my knee. My old Chuck Taylors slipping in the mud and grass, I lugged buckets of broken rocks to the edge of the now prepared (holed) brick edged flower bed. My husband came out to watch for a bit...."More than you anticipated, hmmmm?" I think I panted an answer of a grunt, heaving dirt up onto the tarp I'd spread out to protect the lawn.
One neighbor offered rootbeer which my husband enjoyed, and another brought me a strawberry alcoholic beverage that I slurped down like a nine year-old with a slushy. (we do have such lovely neighbors) My back ached. The muscles in my arms were hard and felt like wire twisted too taunt beneath my flesh as the leather gloves chafed the soft skin on the inside of my wrists. I had grit on my cheek and bits of grass in my hair, but as I held the already budding canes carefully still while gently pouring the soft dirt that smelled of life and wind and rain to cover roots that I whispered prayers of deep growth over, the satisfaction was nearly a flavor on my tongue.
Such is planting.
Some of my earliest memories were of my mother in the garden. I remember watching the miracle of tiny black seeds sprouting into heads of cabbage and mountains of tomatoes and squash long before ever stepping a foot inside school. I think my first true love might have been dirt. (and I had the laundry to prove it--and to some extent, still do) The possibilities within the dark earth...ground well-tilled, aired out and tumbled with nutrients, fertile land within which to grow and flourish. Nourishment of the soul as well as the body whole.
It's work. It's painful. I've nine bruises, two scrapes and this is what happened when my hand slipped on the shovel, stoving my middle finger. *sigh*
But oh, the seeds we plant regardless; some with care, some without. In our children, our relationships, our futures. I look back and clearly see the years my garden was....lacking. My investment was terribly visible in the harvest. Sparse and dry. Perhaps this understanding comes with age? Watching a thought bulge into an idea and then unfold into a plan. Exertion and discipline and sweat. And then luscious, succulent fruit. Or maybe the recognition of a kindred soul, infused with time and kindness--and friendship follows. Journals written, talents explored, horizons challenged...
The air is heavy, saturated with rain and promise.
What are you planting this spring?