It seems at this time of year I go from zero to 100 in the space of a few days. While I usually have several designs to work on over the winter, the pace is very relaxed – no pressure, just creative calm. Except I don’t pace myself – I languish throughout the early winter months, then as spring approaches I must hustle to complete my winter projects. Still, spring comes in fits and starts, so even then there’s a little breathing space……………until now. Warmer weather is finally here, and while my fellow gardeners are out playing in the dirt, I am playing catch-up so my clients can have their designs, and my landscape contractors can start getting to work…………like tomorrow. Zero to 100.
When I first became a designer, I naively thought it would be a rewarding way to make some extra money to spend on my own garden. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do – it is very rewarding, and while I do indeed have extra money to spend on my own garden, I now have very little time.
So today I work in my garden – cleaning up the refuse that remains after last year’s early snowfall, and breathing in the burgeoning spring, late as it is. It was a difficult winter for me – not just because it was unusually long, but because life brought some unwelcome challenges. I’ll spare you the details (despite the very public nature of blogging, I am a very private person) and say only that nursing someone dear to me through a broken heart has been a very painful experience. Sobering it is too, accepting that words – no matter how wise or comforting – cannot heal. Only the passage of time can do this.
Time. Is she enemy or is she friend? She oft dawdles behind us………then gets way ahead, sometimes giving too much of herself and more frequently, not enough.
C.S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist, believed that humans are discomfited by the concept of time because we are actually timeless beings imprisoned in a time-stamped existence, and only in the ‘great beyond’ is there timeless joy. Of course the subject of this blog isn’t theology or philosophy, but I often find that when working in the garden, tending the ground, my thoughts ironically turn to the cosmos, the ethereal.
As gardeners, we tend to think of time as the enemy, or at the very least, a big ol’ thorn in our side – I mean we’re always waiting for something, right? But as I rake the blanket of leaves off awakening perennials, watching the ladybugs scurry off, it occurs to me that it is time that has brought me here, to this simple healing moment.
A Red Admiral butterfly flutters past. A pair of nesting crows coo at each other in a nearby tree. Finch-song and robin-twitter float on the breeze. Overhead a Prairie Merlin squeals, as if sounding the all-clear to trees and shrubs that it’s safe to leaf out. All around life erupts in the symphony that is spring. Yes we must make peace with time, knowing she is both harsh mistress and nurturing healer – the passing of the seasons bears witness to this.
A week or so ago my sister Pat and I took a drive out of the city. Turning a corner onto a gravel road I noticed a flurry of avian activity – as we drew closer, a smallish very bright blue bird alit on a fence post. “Bluebirds,” Pat exclaimed. I caught my breath and whispered “I’ve never seen a bluebird before.” Growing up on an acreage in Southern Ontario, one would think this bird would have been a common sight, but for reasons I can’t remember, the native Eastern bluebird had become quite rare in the area. My mother spoke of them with great reverence, and catching sight of one would be an unlikely, though extraordinary occurrence. Since moving to Calgary more than 3 decades ago I’ve spent very little time in the country, so I’ve never had the opportunity to see a Mountain bluebird either. But here they were, a whole bunch of them, apparently arguing over who got to nest in the birdhouse affixed to the fence post.
We drive on, eventually reaching a dead-end where we turn around – we find another fence-box housing a mated pair of bluebirds. The intensely hued male perches on guard a few metres away, not knowing he’s being a most co-operative photo subject. I snap a few shots. Pat snaps many more. “The Bluebird of Happiness,” she says softly, referencing a phrase oft used in songs and literature to lift spirits and welcome a new day.
Yesterday she sent me one of her bluebird photos in an email with the message ‘May the bluebird of happiness take your pain away – & all that schlock’
Photo: Pat Gaviller
Time it seems has transformed my ‘winter of discontent’, at long last, into Healing Spring.
So to my fellow gardeners patiently waiting for prized perennials to rise from the ashes of winter, to all who are sick or in pain patiently waiting for time to heal you, and to my wounded loved one – may the warmth of spring wash over you, bringing new life.
……….& all that schlock.
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