Today was intended to be a day to finish a homework assignment and a paper, both due tomorrow. But, my husband awoke with other intentions. He was going to pick pears off of our trees that have suffered this season and attempt to dehydrate them. They are delicious, albeit very small. I was frank, bluntly telling him I had no time to help with fruit harvesting today. After that, and after getting a few routine chores done , I set about my assignment tasks. In short order, progress was made that allowed me to go out to the garden, myself.
It’s hot already, and predicted to be 90 today. If I was going to get the eight mums I bought in the ground, I needed to start early in the day. Immediately, I was distracted, however. My bird bath was scum green, the feeders were empty, my chrysanthemum fountain was empty, and the hummingbird feed was dry. As I took care of some of these yard related tasks, I happened to glance out and see a swallowtail visiting one of the many hydrangeas that dot our yard. Taking no time to grab my DSLR Nikon 5200 camera (which has been used recently by my portrait making son to photograph beautiful young ladies in sunflower patches), I instead whisked my iPhone off the counter and headed out the hydrangea beckoning all the butterflies. There, I identified not just one swallow-tail but two, a painted lady, a red admiral, and a monarch. Five types of butterflies feeding all at the same time on one bush! What a sight! I’ll surely be doing some Photo shop work on some of these – so beautiful!
From my pretending to be butterfly paparazzi, I morphed into the gardener once again and proceeded to get some of my new fall mums in the ground. While working I gazed at lovely pink coneflower, striped petunias, and a plethora of zinnia. As these summer, heat lovers fade my new mums will grow, spread, and bloom into colorful masses at the end of my driveway.
Many things went through my mind as I worked in my gardens in the heat this morning. First, and foremost, is that I find joy in taking care of my own gardens. I love the color, the peace, watching things grow and change with the seasons, and knowing I am doing it for no one but just my own enjoyment (unlike school gardening). In my search for sources of joy in my life this summer, I can honestly say gardening in my own yard is a source of joy for me. While I sat on a pink fleece blanket to soften the ground against my aging knees, I thought of my friend Cheryl who was an avid gardener. She moved away some years ago to Florida. I am sure she is still doing some great gardening there! I thought of other friends, and how we really do not have many common connections and what strengthens that friendship or is now making it fragile. I thought of my parents’ yard, and my love of plants and gardening from whom I received some of each from my mom (house plants and indoor gardening) and dad (yard work and outdoor gardening). I grew Portulaca for the first time this year, and will do so again. It reminds me of the garden around our pool when I was a teen. We had portulaca and prickly pear cactus in those beds. I love the connection I now have with butterflies. I realize that attracting them to my yard provides me with great pleasure.
Through gardening, I am reminded of the joy of being alive, being well, being curious, and able to pursue activities I love. Through gardening, I have definitely have a source of joy in my life. How do you receive the gift of joy?