Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Sister’s Surprise

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity. Nature was a solemn mother to the worshippers of Isis and Cybele. Nature was a solemn mother to Wordsworth or to Emerson. But Nature is not solemn to Francis of Assisi or to George Herbert. To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved.”

Within every small town or neighborhood where there is tillable dirt you will find a lady whose garden is the envy of all others. A garden where people slow down as they drive by to look at or walk the long way home so they can stroll pass her flowers. This lady is always generous with giving or trading cuttings and bulbs. She will always listen to your garden stories and advise when necessary. She has dirt under her nails all summer dancing with her “younger sister.

In our town that lady is my wife.

She has set it up so that every two weeks or so the garden changes color. Slow waves of yellow to purple to blue to red back to yellow then burnt orange and gold all moving within an undercurrent of all the hues of green. She knows all the names of the flowers both the common and the Latin. She can do this whether the plant is in full bloom or just a half inch out of the ground. When she and I wander around the garden in summer I ask her to tell me the Latin names of each one we pass. Not that I have forgotten from the last time she told me it is just that to hear the sound of Latin spoken in a soft Kentucky accent is beautifully lyrical. It is the voice of angels or at least the voice of the elves of Arda.

My function in this garden is to do the heavy lifting and provide patience. The later is most important this time of year. This past weekend as I was turning and adding compost to some dirt for our beets and lettuce she exclaimed, “I want to uncover the beds!”

“It is to soon. Next week will be safer.” I tell her and she knows I’m right.

So she walked around behind me and gentling moved away some leaf matter to take a peek. “Daisys?” she wondered “What are they doing over here? I thought I had those contained.”

I laughed and told her, “You can’t contain daisy’s.” and then said, “It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.’ Do it again He says and our sister obeys. A nice surprise for us huh? ”

Oh yea the garden is also a place I can quote Chesterton where my wife does not roll her eyes at me.

No comments: