Yesterday morning EJ fixed the mower and then he mowed the lawn. It was a relatively simple problem, and he offered to show me how he fixed it, but I refused. I told him that I was so frustrated by my constant battle with the mowers this summer that I didn’t even want to look at a mower right now. The mower struggles became a metaphor for things in my life that I can’t live with but I can’t fix.
Later in the afternoon, a neighbor saw us in the garden and came over to chat. Unaware of our mower problems, she said that she has struggled with her mower this summer–in fact, she has broken two mowers. She can borrow her parent’s mower to mow the front yard, but they don’t want her to mow the back yard where the dogs’ droppings are, so her back yard has long grass. (I hadn’t noticed.) I commiserated with her problems, telling her that we were struggling with broken mowers too. I secretly thought, “Ha! The mowers’ rebellion is spreading!” I have decided that all mowers are rebels and I will now refer to them as “rebel scum.” (Sorry, Simone, but I will no longer sweet-talk these evil machines who are making lives’ miserable.)
We had storms during the night. It felt as if all night there was the constant rumble of thunder. The thunder woke me enough that I knew what it was and it disturbed my sleep, but not enough to wake me fully or to motivate me to check radar. Today has been so humid that I feel as if I could make a twisting motion with my hands and squeeze water out of the air.
I (we) got a lot of little tasks done this morning. I stopped at the bank, bought milk at the little gas station store, and picked up the mail at the post office. EJ and I returned a friend’s truck that we had borrowed. I also rescued a baby bird from Annie’s jaws. I happened to glance out the window and saw her running with it so I rushed out and saved it. It was unharmed. It calmly let me pick it up in my hands and carry it to the tray feeder where it would be safe from falling and from cats until it recovered from its ordeal. A little later I check and it was gone. I thought how magical it was that a little wild bird would rest trustingly in my hands. When I was a child, I always ranted to be like Doctor Dolittle and talk to the animals. Experiences like this make me feel I am almost there.
This morning I was pondering how wonderful it feels to have the lawn all neatly mowed. Then I laughed because while the lawn is neat, my garden is a riot of wildness. And that made me think of my neighbors’ gardens, which are all neatly mulched. That reminded me of how much I appreciate that people and gardens are so different. I delight in differences because I think that it is peoples’ differences, gifts, and strengths, and even their idiosyncrasies, weaknesses and wounds that make them beautifully unique. How boring it would be if we were all the same. The same is true of their gardens. I admire my neighbor’s gardens.
I think gardeners are like artists and their gardens are their canvases. Each gardener “paints” a beautiful picture with their garden that is an expression of who they are. There is no right and wrong about their gardens. There is only unique differences and beauty.
I like my lawn (the little bit that there is) to be neatly mowed. When it’s not, I feel a sense of clutter and disorder and chaos in my spirit which drags me down. I hate going out in the yard when the mower is broke and the grass is high. A neatly mowed lawn makes me feel calm and joyful. However, my garden is not orderly or neat. It is not mulched with flowers in nice little groupings. My garden has a neat path running through it, but the plants are a riot of wildness, with plants spreading and appearing in surprising places. Sometimes new plants appear; I don’t know where they came from–probably the wind blows seeds or the birds drop them. My garden has snakes and frogs and birds and butterflies crawling and hopping and fluttering around. Even spiders and insects have their place in the garden (as long as they are not on ME.) I am delighted by the things in my garden–both planned and surprising, both wildlife and plant. I love the neatness of my lawn and the little bit of wildness in my garden.
My garden is an expression of who I am. I have always been able to fulfill obligations in my life–like to go school or work, do dishes and wash clothes–but I have always needed to also have a little bit of wildness in my life, a little bit of time that was not organized or obligated in which I could do whatever I wanted. If all my life was without order, I would feel chaotic and stressed. If all of my life was regimented, I would feel stifled and restricted. I need a little bit of both. That is what I express with my lawn and garden.