Our Secret Garden

Our garden is growing weeds. We don’t know what to expect in these garden beds because we weren’t the ones who planted them. We inherited them when we bought the house in the dead of winter, bare trees and frosted beds.

So I’ve been waiting and watching, checking each morning to see what pops up, bringing my hot coffee out to the brisk air on the porch for a brief status meeting. You should know, the garden beds have been a point of contention in our marriage. I much prefer to observe the weeds, to take in their growth, to turn the weeds into a practical metaphor. My husband wishes he had married someone who would, you know, pull the weeds.

I text my mom and my aunt with photos, asking, Are these weeds?

They tell me to get on my hands and knees, pull the ones I hate and leave the ones I love. Even weeds can be beautiful, they tell me.

I’m far too distracted right now with the meaning of the weeds, but surely I’ll get out there soon on the knee board Mom says she left behind on moving day.

For now, I run each morning to the front window. What beautiful, beautiful weeds.

Recently, I threw away St. Francis. He was broken.

Another inheritance: two weathered garden statues.

I wrote an essay about how broken hollow empty St. Francis fell over (and how I don’t blame him). And then I had to wrap two trash bags around him, tie it up, and put him headfirst in the trash can to leave on the curb. It broke my heart.

We go to grab the cans and bump into the neighbor walking his dog. At a socially appropriate distance, we laugh that the trash truck actually took Francis, share that we feel a little weird about the whole trashing a saint thing.

God won’t mind, we all agree.

After all, who would want a broken saint?

It’s Mother’s Day. Our moms come over for a garden party. Bring your own chair, we’ll supply the grass. It’s a very strange year of socializing outdoors.

My mom brings me a gift: gardening gloves, some other gardening tools I know nothing about. She has seen me raking up sticks wearing gloves twice my size, so she says I should have something more appropriate.

Before they leave, they both walk through our garden beds to assess our weeds. Weed, weed, lilac, rose bush, weed, weed.

It’s clear I have done nothing more than look at the weeds, watch them grow, write about them. My mom calls a few days after to ask about our plans on Saturday. I thought I would come help pull weeds, she says, it doesn’t look like you’ve done more than think about the weeds. My husband’s eyes light up like he has just won the lottery.

She’s right. I have made plans to become a gardener, thought about how nice it would be to become that friend, that wife, that daughter who digs deep in the messy soil and plants seeds that bloom as a gift to others. It could be rather enchanting like The Secret Garden movie I loved as a kid. I like the sound of the whole ordeal, a gardener creating a welcoming garden, pulling weeds to make room for beautiful flowers, becoming that person I imagine a disciplined gardener to be. It sounds lovely.

Lately I’ve felt preoccupied with the essence of the garden (lost in the weeds, maybe, but it certainly feels like it matters), trying to figure out where the weeds come from and if they can actually be beautiful, in the same distracted way I turn into those white floaties of a blown dandelion weed every time I’m supposed to flip a light switch or lock a door. You left the light on and the door open again, my husband says, you’re making circles around the house.

It’s possible. I agree to try harder to turn the light off, to lock the door, and on Saturday (Lord willing) I will pull the weeds.

3 responses to “Our Secret Garden”

  1. You made me laugh this morning, when I got to the last photo. It looks amazingly like (and could be?) WEED. When we bought our first farm in southern Indiana, I was proudly showing some visitors around the property. “Of course, I have to manage these weeds,” I explained rather sheepishly. “Oh! We thought that was one of your crops,” said my friend, “You do know that’s marijuana!” I hadn’t a clue!!!!

    1. Haha oh my!! This is great story Carolee! I think we have just the normal pesky kinds of weeds. (I’m going to update the photo to what I was trying to find…) My aunt said it may be a henbit, a purpley cone shaped weed. Thanks for giving me a laugh this morning!

  2. […] case you’re wondering, our garden is still growing weeds. I’m learning that this is how it goes (so they say): you pull the weeds, they’re gone; then […]

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