Container Gardening + Plant Collecting

Typically, by mid-June, I’d be nurturing a well-groomed garden and plucking off a zucchini here, a tomato there. In previous years, this was the case.

This year is an exception. The recurring late-freezes in April, followed by losing Bill, meant our whole spring was not ideal for lazy days of gardening. By the time I had a mind to plant a few things, the garden space was overgrown with weeds and I didn’t have the time or energy to tackle it.

That’s when my houseplant problem took a turn for the worse.

In between freelance assignments and finishing school for the year, I started picking up a new houseplant on benign trips to Walmart, or splitting a larger plant I already had into two baby plants. I fussed and piddled about.

I even set out two bird feeders just so I’d have something to fiddle with.

It finally occurred to me that I was missing a garden and, instead of making my workspace a complete jungle, I should just plant a container garden to satisfy this need to connect with nature and grow stuff. Why this didn’t occur to me two months ago is a mystery.

I chose herbs for summertime cooking (pesto!), but I also selected three Japanese Eggplants because they are my favorites to grow and eat.

Japanese Eggplant is long and slender, unlike its bulbous American cousin, and is perfect when roasted with herbs. I hope this works because container gardening has already satisfied my springtime/summertime need to fuss in the yard and pick at things.

We eventually cleared out the overgrown garden space (Chuck with his weed-eater and me with my shovel), so perhaps I’ll plant a second season garden in August and cross my fingers for a decent autumn crop.

It’s unclear, though, whether or not container gardening has dampened by houseplant problem. Jury’s still out.

Lastly, how sweet is this boy?

Signs of Life Day One

My first thought upon hearing the alarm song at 7 a.m. (“Across the Great Divide” by Nanci Griffith) was – Absolutely not. No way it is time to wake up. Nope. – and then I hit the snooze button.

But then I heard Chuck shuffling around the room, and then I heard the faucet turn on and off in our bathroom, and the realization hit that it was indeed time to start the day. Oh how I wish I could welcome the morning with more fervor! Because what does a new day mean if not new opportunities, a new start, a new collection of choices to make? Waking up each morning means I literally did not die in the night! It means I get another day with my husband, another day with my children, another day living this life I’ve crafted alongside others.

After a kiss goodbye, Chuck was out the door and I was settled in the dimly lit library where we do school each day and I work on freelance assignments. This was the view from the window, and I welcomed it heartily.

Good morning, I said to no one in particular. Maybe it was to God, or maybe to myself. Either way, it was a moment of recognition: This is a new day. I welcome it, and it welcomes me.

Before I opened my book and began the morning ritual of reading, I picked at the potted plants in front of that same window. I’ve been teased for my plants – mercilessly, I might add – but at this very moment I decided I’d no longer care about being teased. I love them. I’m coming out as a lover of indoor plants. I love fiddling with them and repotting them and seeing how they bend towards the sunshine. 

It is the tiniest of pleasures, and the impact it has on anyone other than me is zero. This is fine.

The day quickly paced towards breakfast and school and chores, and soon I was on the phone with a Methodist minister in West Texas talking about death. I’m working on freelance piece about life after death according to five major religions, and I’ve already interviewed an imam and a director of a Hindu temple, both of whom were gracious and patient with me as I sought to spell words correctly and understand concepts foreign to me. But the conversation with the Methodist was old hat. I know this language, I’ve studied this doctrine, yet I still asked questions as if I knew nothing, and I didn’t let him off the phone until I asked what he thought about animals in heaven.

You know, because animals!

He said: That’s a good question. It would make sense to me that animals are in the new creation. Are all the dogs I’ve ever owned gonna be there? Will we all live together? (he laughs) The vision is that the lion will lie with the lamb, and that may be metaphorical for other things, but I believe there will be no more devouring. We’ll sit in peace together. I can’t say all dogs go to heaven, but if there’s going to be a tree of life, there’s probably going to be some birds in it. It would be strange for there not to be animals because they’re a beautiful part of creation. God created the animals and said it was good. How could He all of a sudden say they aren’t good anymore?

Makes sense to me.

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will create a speck of light and positivity when and where it is needed.