Today, evidently, has been about my hands in the dirt.

It looked more like procrastination, today being Tuesday-studio-day, yet I blazed past 9am still reading the newspaper in pjs. My studio buddy cancelled — goodbye, accountability! — I hadn’t set a work-plan last night, and in the silence I heard my yard.

I managed to pull on old jeans, old shirt, old shoes before a daughter wanted an errand… I added coffee and another errand (no! merely rescheduled it from later in the day!). BUT!
But by 11am I held gloves, a skinny trowel, #9 Felco trimmers, and stood in the front yard.

Over the twenty years I’ve had a yard, I haven’t developed a routine of care for it. Well, really, I’m not prone to developing routines of any sort (see habitforming). The yard-neglect ebbs and (mostly) flows. Since summer I’ve been darkly eyeing our longest bed as I retrieved the mail from the mailbox.

Runner-grass, a creation which should terrify any thinking human, had pursued its relentless imperatives into the gentle ground of the long bed, sneaking like daylight ninjas under the dwarf ruellia. Blade-height ranged up to a foot, perhaps longer. And ruellia ejects seed from its stalks like shoulder-launched missiles; the resulting “explosions” have eccentrically populated the entire bed. There are, of course, the expected weeds everywhere. And live-oak suckers… sprouts that appear to be saplings, but will never turn into Real Trees. If ever there was a living witness to our earthly tendency to chaos -!

I pruned suckers below the soil-line. I plucked Johnson grass. I dug up misplaced ruellia, snapping persistent webs of roots. And I squinted at the mat of ruellias-that-belong, trying to discern the blades of grass from the equally long and oval ruellia leaves. Scrabbling out of sight, hooking the strands of runner in my fingers, to pull firmly — yanking snaps the stem, leaving you to suss out the ninjas with even fewer clues than before.

My friend the former horticulturalist uses plant metaphors all the time. One envies him — his training in growing plants paid off in his life’s work growing faith in humans. His images fill me with glee: plants are us, plants are our lives, plants are the circumstances around us.

Circumstances like weeds, some of which (ruellias, that fiance) could be fine planted elsewhere, just not here not now. Or once were what was needed, but now have run amok (runner grass, that system administration job).

Lives like gardens or fields — grown for some purpose, but do you know what that is? Microclimates better suited for certain growths — have you noticed something you’ve planted isn’t thriving?

Or are you what’s not thriving where you’re planted?

Have you checked in lately to understand what the Gardener intends?

I intended today to operate like this: Write, studio-work (prepping poems for publication this time, maybe a few crafts), lunch, errands, study. Each time I turned to this schedule, I found my hands back in the dirt. Bonus points for clearing the “mulch” from a downspout drain on the garage roof.

I’d like to say that I spent my garden time in hymns and meditation, but I’m not that good. On the other hand, it’s looking like everything will end up happening within this day. So maybe I’m not too far away from what the Gardener intends…

…I just needed to spend a little more time down in the dirt.

Isaiah 55:9-11 New International Version (NIV)

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


photo credit: Noel C. Hankamer via photopin cc cropped to current dimensions by kds

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