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My Wildly Messy Garden

August 22, 2006

The heat here in South Texas is penetrating to the marrow of my bones this week. But, there is a certain happiness to those sunrays. God created the sun, and it is not the enemy. It gives life. Still, I’ll admit, it also gives headaches! We’re in August, and reaching new levels of intensity; I’m fighting to keep my flowers, herbs, and general landscaping alive. I don’t know what the watering system was for the earth before things broke, but I’m sure it was consistent — unlike our Texas thunderstorms lately.

I’ve been thinking about my garden, because this is the first year in seven that I’ve felt great satisfaction in the tiered beds that I attempt to cultivate. I was thinking of the delight I’m finding in each plant. It’s an odd mixture. Some things I don’t even know the names of, I got them at a “distressed” sale for as little as 24 cents. And, they’re thriving. I made a choice to break with convention and mix roses in with the rest. I love roses, but I really don’t enjoy the sterile looking beds that they are typically placed into. Very boring. Instead, I have all sorts, and sizes, and shapes of plants jumbled together. (Not at all English, must be that messy French and Irish in me!) Some of the taller things are growing in front with wild orange somethings scattering from seed year after year. Unless I transplant them, they’re free to grow where their roots sprout. There are numerous herbs mixed into the flowers, so when I water there are lovely fragrances that make their way through the moist air. Several things that I nearly pulled out, or that I actually hoped would die, have grown into lush green additives, blooming beyond their season.

A thought occurred to me, that my garden is messier than I intended. I really planned to lay it out in a proper order, but it’s a jumble of odd combinations of color, texture and scent. And I realized that I love my messy garden, because it’s like real life. Life is a messier thing than I would like, or plan. It’s wilder than I expected. I love the line in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where the beaver says, “He’s not a tame Lion, you know…” Life is like that — not at all tame, but good.

As much as I try to control my garden, or my life, for tidiness, calmness, goodness, rightness, there are things that surprise me. Things that won’t go away, that I really want to go away. Like some of my plants that I really wanted to die, without me actually being responsible. There’s ugliness and deformity from bugs that look for their sustenance in my hard work, and the never-ending mosquito plague. I can count on getting 1-5 bites every time I go out the door. I don’t like to wear bug spray all day, so I take the bites. I take the attack. Attacks are never fun, but I have to put up with it if my garden is going to survive. Even that life-giving force, the sun, can feel destructive when I see my crop wilting at two in the afternoon from unrelenting beams.

So, I’ve collected an odd assortment of plants in my garden, and in my life. Things that I didn’t plan to be there. I was going to have a very tidy garden, and a very tidy life. But, God in His mercy had a different plan, and those plants I wanted to go away, were put in the ground, to grow and thrive, and bloom. And, that messy garden gives joy. As I’ve been writing this entry, thunderclouds have accumulated as I’ve been running (in between paragraphs) to move the water, and scoop more peat moss into the soil. Once again, my plans are caught in the wild, spontaneous messiness of life. What joy!

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