Monday, April 3, 2017

Paradise ≠ a Parking Lot

What is the wellspring of my love of gardening?
It could be my Dad – throughout his life, his lawn and garden was an art form to be perfected through back breaking work, often involving his crew of seven kids.  Late in life, he found an ideal outlet at a garden center and earned money on the side trimming trees.  You know, pruning the trees was not really about the money - he saw it as a labor of love, both for the tree and especially for its owner.  I learned so much from Dad about how to employ pruning to shape a tree, how to cut

In our neighborhood
the branches to keep the specimen healthy, how to look at the tree with a critical eye – Spousal Unit would say that all of the kids inherited the ‘family stance’ – we stand back from the yard or the tree, put our hands on our hips and lock our knees – all with a view to determine if perfection has been obtained, or if something is still out of place.

Volunteer pansies in the back yard
It could be the wonder I experience when I look at the simplest of creations – such as these pansies; the placement and variety of delicate markings on the faces are awe-inspiring to me.  I have a strong desire to be part of that creation and to further it. Maybe this is also why I feel such a profound sense of loss every time I see trees that have been cut down to make way for a new building, or even worse, a parking lot.
It could be that my faith is renewed in moments in nature, when I am inspired by such simple beauty.  “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you?” Luke 12: 27 – 28.  

It could be my Mom, who has a green thumb with African violets - the pictures below are just those that are blooming at the moment!  She can rescue the most sickly patient and within weeks, it seems, it is producing vibrant blooms to brighten her dining room window. 
It could be that my yard contains the possibility for me to be in control.  I can define the start and finish.  I can define ‘complete’ and actually complete something.  In the past, in the world of work, so many actions were ‘to be continued’, never quite finished.  In my yard, I get a sense of satisfaction that is important to me somehow.
It could be the therapeutic value I derive from being outside in the sun and unsullied air, putting my gloved hands into the dirt.  There is a simple joy I experience just by being outside.  During hours and weeks and years of being constrained by office buildings, I longed to be in the fresh, open spaces of my yard.  It’s there that you can hear the birds chirping, and the wind in the trees.
Blooms on our block
As we make our move to Montana, I have been giving a lot of thought to our plot of land.  At the moment, apart from looming larches, a thicket of aspens and a large pond, it is a fairly blank canvas.  I am rubbing my hands with glee over the possibilities.  To aid the vision, I have been gathering ideas via Pinterest, and my pins are multiplying like rabbits.  This very process of data-gathering has given me pause.  It has made me mindful about my stated desire during retirement to let go of my old definitions of perfection.  As much as I might admire classic mid-western landscaping, I don’t want to re-create it – I want something that fits our new environment.  This is about working with nature to enhance and perpetuate what is natural and good.  You can be sure it won’t be a parking lot.


  1. Hi Angie!
    Love reading your blog!
    Thank you for showing me how to comment.
    Natalie xo

  2. Natalie - you are welcome! I am so pleased that you like it. Happy reading!
    Angie xo