I worked in my yard yesterday. It made me happy. What a good feeling...to be able to feel the emotions of happiness, peace, and contentment. To feel them pulsing through me like blood!
As I've mentioned before, last fall much of my front flower beds was torn up. That frustrated me, although I understand why it had to be done. It frustrated me because when we moved here, the yard was so very bare and the house was so very white and shiny new. It was...hmmm... how shall I say this? how to find words? I am from Washington state where we have hills and trees and curves. Oh, and people. I grew up in a semi-urban area. I was surrounded by town, although many of the places we lived were somewhat removed from the hubbub of the suburbia.
We moved here and it was winter. It was white and gray. And open. Very open. We can see for miles from our house. I don't exaggerate. It's flat. It's open. And everyone knows everyone. The house was new, so only had a few rows of baby trees around it, and very few landscaping plants. I felt naked and exposed. And the sameness of the surrounding area was an emotional assault to my senses. There was so little variation in texture or color. That sounds extreme and even a bit unkind. But so it was.
So when those bushes that were finally full and big, and which I had lovingly nurtured for nine summers, had to come out, to be ripped violently from their safe little places, I have to admit, it was a hard day. I was not happy. I kept telling myself that I oughtn't to love the things of this world. But we do, don't we? All of us do. We can't help it. God has given us so much wealth and beauty in our material possessions. There is a fine line between appreciating and enjoying such blessings, and becoming too strongly attached to them.
Our financial situation this spring is such that I don't feel as though I can invest in any perennials to fill up the bare bed area that was quickly filling in with weeds. It was yet another job looming and staring me in the face. But what to put there? What to do with that space? Do I plant grass and call it good? Do we cover it with black plastic for the summer to keep the weeds down? Do I stare at the dirt and weeds all summer? I was at a mental block with the situation.
My kids and I like to fill pots with annual flowers for around our porch and driveway corners. It's one of the great joys of my summer. Usually I take at least some of the kids, sometimes all of them, and we head to one of the big nurseries or greenhouses in the region. I pick out some of the plants, but I also let the kids choose others. Then we bring them all home and spend a couple of days arranging pots for all the kids. They get to help me pick the plants to put in. They help arrange them in the pots. And then we arrange all of the pots around our front yard living areas, so that they continue to please us all summer long. Some of the kids usually choose to put these planters in the county fair. The whole process is something we really enjoy doing together.
But again, financially, I can't justify spending the money on such an indulgent thing this year. As I'm sure everyone else has noticed, the price of groceries has absolutely skyrocketed. Between that and the cost of fuel, we just can't do it this year. It was always a splurge. Always indulgent. But it was something that brought us so much pleasure that it was worth it to cut corners other places to be able to do it. But this year, I've told the kids, we don't have money for luxuries. There is little left to cut.
But then, suddenly, on Thursday, I was blessed with the living gift of plants. From two directions.
One of my walking buddies, Lana, brought over a bunch of her extra plants. She brought some garden seedlings, squash and tomatoes. She brought some perennials that she had dug out of her beds. She also had a little six pack of snap dragons left over. I felt rich!
That same day, I heard from another friend, Allie, who runs a little shop and greenhouse in Thief River Falls. She and her parents decided to go together and provide us with whatever plants from her greenhouse I wanted to choose. They would cover the cost! Another blessing!
Allie is having a big sale this weekend, so she recommended I come before the weekend to get some good ones. I chose several six packs of tomatoes, a couple varieties of hot peppers, some cabbage and broccoli, and three different squash/pumpkin type things. I was going to splurge a little and pick out one of Allie's beautiful hanging baskets of petunias, which I felt I ought to pay for myself. But of course she would not let me. She also encouraged me to pick out a couple other "just for fun" things, so I chose some perennials, daisies and lupines for the naked flowerbed; and an old-fashioned white enamel pot with red trim, filled with cosmos for my front porch.
I'm going to stick a parenthetic paragraph in here to promote Allie's shop, The Shed, on MN Hwy 1, three miles east of Thief River Falls. Allie describes her inventory as shabby-chic. She has a selection of antiques, some remade items, many locally hand-crafted things, some quirky-fun items. A little of this and a little of that. This spring Allie had a wonderful greenhouse, and sponsored a perennial swap for area gardeners. She has handmade wooden yard furniture and garden art for sale, such as picnic tables, patio sets, trellises, and arches. She's done a great job with the store. Go check it out sometime.
As one further aside, Allie is having brain surgery next week to have a cyst removed that has been growing and pressing on some important brain cells. I pray for her full recovery. And for God to grant her and her family an extra measure of His peace and comfort as they go through this very frightening time.
Veering back now to talk more about my yard work, which seems so trite compared to brain surgery, ... Because of the kindness and generosity of these friends, I was able to fill in about a third of the naked flower bed. We are well supplied with bedding plants for the garden. And I am even now sitting on my front porch gazing upon my beautiful hanging basket of petunias. They are a deep purple and a salmony pink, glowing in the morning sunshine, and swaying gently in the breeze. Such a pretty sight. I have snap dragons in two of my pots in two corners of my front porch. It will be fun to see in a few weeks what colors they will bloom. And I have this cute little enamel pot topped with tall cosmos whose blossoms are just beginning to swell in preparation for opening.
I may see if one of the local greenhouses has some basics left, and on sale. Nothing fancy or expensive, but maybe a couple of six packs of marigolds and moss roses. Some petunias and verbena. Perhaps some salvia. We can get by with that; and the kids can create some pretty arrangements for their pots. We will have to wait and see what I can find.
But even if we only are able to have what we have now, what a blessing! What a joy! Living and growing things to enjoy, both all this summer and in years to come!
Thank you, my friends!