Well, not literally ‘new eyes’, new awareness is more accurate. It’s been a good weekend for awareness. Spring is on the horizon, too, and my thoughts are full of seeds, flowers, rose bushes, trees that want a bit of pruning, and rich brown earth waiting to be turned, amended, and planted.

A promise of sunny days to come.

A promise of sunny days to come.

This weekend I could be found in the garden. In the rain as often as not, and yes, in the garden. I pruned the plum-tree out by the back fence; two summers I have fussed about tangled low-hanging branches, and the challenges of gathering the tasty fruit. This weekend I took care of that, with love and attention, and aware that soon each branch would be leafy and heavy with fruit. Each cut I made was focused on the tree-right-now, and also on a desired form of tree-later-than-now. It was as much meditation as labor, and I delighted in the experience.

I took time to prune tangled roses and potato vine at the corners of the deck, tying up long graceful canes and branches when I’d completed the pruning. I’m eager to see the outcome, in summer, with leaves and flowers everywhere.

I mixed a couple of favorite blends of wildflower seeds, with some favorite annual garden flowers much less ‘wild’, and eagerly filled pots with rich soil and compost, and a few seeds. (It’s nice to have some containers of living flowers that I can easily move here and there depending on what we’re doing in the garden.) I sowed flower seeds in a couple of borders, and along the barren bank of a small hill that I stared at with some annoyance all summer last year; surely some hardy wild flowers will grow there? I tucked dahlia bulbs between jasmine and clematis vines, near a bit of deck trellis that supports hanging pots that are seeded with nasturtiums and sweet peas. There should be a lot of flowers this year…

‘Should’ is a funny word. It sets the stage for our unfounded expectations, resting them on an illusion of a foundation – a magical world where things do what we imagine they ought to do, for some mysterious ‘reason’, because they ‘should’. I caught myself yesterday, thinking ‘there should be a lot of flowers this year…’  As opposed to last year? When I also planted a lot of seeds? Sure – but last year I wasn’t as patient with the real work of gardening, and often lacked the will to really dig in and push my effort beyond the lethargy and ennui that is often the most obvious byproduct of ‘OPD’ (Other People’s Drama). This year, I am willing to smile at the seeds, the future flowers, the vines that need pruning right now, the roses that want to be prepared for that early bout of black spot in the spring, and understand the work of Love, and the work in the garden, are the same work; tending the needs of Life to grow and thrive. I may have a lot of flowers this year. My garden has that potential. Surely, rather than ‘should’, what I have is ‘may’ – and my will is predictably a factor there, as are my choices. If I don’t water, tend the plants, dead head the roses, harvest fruits, my garden will predictably be less vibrant, less productive, and less ‘full of flowers’. So simple.

There is always work to do in the garden. If I envision an outcome, my effort makes it more likely. If I dread a particular disaster, my effort to prepare and mitigate reduces the effect that disaster may have. If I am stressed, having my hands in the soil, and among the leaves and flowers, soothes my heart. There are a lot of verbs in my garden. Seeing the work of the garden through eyes that resent labor or effort, or feel only the weight of the work, and the commitment, can make it all seem so overwhelming, and a bit lacking in any chance of completion. Seeing the work of the garden through new eyes, each task becomes its own joy, its own moment to be one with Life.

There have been years when my garden held the entirety of what was sane and whole about me in its fragile eco-system. That’s a big burden for small flowers, and it worked out mostly pretty well; here I am. I cherish my garden, each flower, each tree, each paving stone and feeder. Now I get how much more the journey matters than the destination, and even sitting down to prune a potted rose on a rainy day, or slog through a muddy yard to plant wild flowers on a slope, or hang baskets that will soon be filled with flowers, there is joy and satisfaction in each task. I’m no longer frantically working toward a finish line; I’m just working, right now.

My garden is also filled with metaphors. Change. Sufficiency. Joy. Life. Love. All the best things emotion and heart and mindfulness have to offer are right there in the garden, for me. Life’s darker lessons have their moment in the garden, too, and I see them all through new eyes.

Another work week begins, and time to tend a very different sort of garden. 🙂