When sunny days come to my NW garden, I understand why the lizard crawls onto the rock to warm his blood. Like him, the sun beckons to me and I find myself standing in my yard with my head turned towards the sun’s warmth. There is something in spring which calls me and I cannot help but respond to the silent message. Come, come, come. Like the sap rising in the under layers of the tree which must of its very nature make this journey, I too, must come to this moment.
Each year I marvel at the burst of green that seems to emerge overnight from winters brown. Within days my yard is filled with every shade of green and the first flowers announce the lengthening light. After the hellebore brings forth their nodding heads of many hues, the Ribes sanguineum, flowering current, bursts into bloom to let the bees and hummingbirds know spring has arrived. There is blue of grape hyacinth and blue bells; tulips in yellows, pinks, purples and white; the Euonymus fortunei ‘golden prince’ puts forth long arms of green stems with bright yellow on every leaf.
The fat buds of clematis peel open their petals and announce the expanding light, while the fragrance of daphne stops me in my tracks and demands a moments pause. Shy nodding heads of columbine ask me to look down and the big blooms of rhododendron take my eyes skyward.
Each day something new. When I hear someone say, “Oh I saw the garden before” I cringe. This isn’t the garden of last year or even yesterday. It changes moment to moment. Each day in my travels in the yard I pick every dandelion bloom and flower I can find. But before I stumble back to the house exhausted from my labors, three more have emerged teasing me with their wispy heads. This is the garden of the moment, of change and impermanence. This garden asks me to be awake, be present to the wonder of the moment because it will not last. (Picasa photo album)
I have come to warm in the sun but the spring sun is unpredictable. It shines and I rush to get outside only to find the clouds have closed in and the wind is cold. Perhaps it will rain and I will stand under the big Doug Firs to stay dry or wait it out in the greenhouse.
I dress in layers of gardening clothes that can be piled on or removed in a moment. They are often fairly dirty from kneeling in wet grass or soil, carrying compost and digging. I am not the spring maiden on the garden catalog in her flowing dress, with quaint hat and woven basket. I look more like the bag lady that lives under the bridge. Spring weather is quixotic and it is more than once I have come back the next day to find a discarded layer now soaked by the rain.
The lizard knows the sun from cellular memory passed down through DNA. Maybe this is how I also know the sun. But I carry the memory of the spring warmth in my heart and warm myself through the gray days that will stretch out over the next several months. I recall a year when the sun barely emerged until almost the end of July. That was a test. Yet the moment the sun shone for good, all the gray was forgotten. Is this our human nature saying be here now?
The garden holds many secrets. Some secrets are caught by the astute eye which notices the subtle changes moment to moment, but others sweep in bigger movements and come to light only through the years. Twenty years in this garden have shown me the cycles of life and the preciousness of the moment. The garden has taught me to have patience as the small tree will grow and I will marvel years later that I planted it at all. I have learned to let go of regrets when a favorite plant stays only for a season or a few years and then is gone. I love the gardeners wisdom that tell us newbies that this year our plant will sleep, next year it will creep, and then it will leap. I know too that the freshness of spring will wane and the chore of watering will at times overshadow the joy I feel now. The garden is a task mistress. So I enjoy the spring garden in many ways and remind myself that the sun that is so precious now will in months to come be too much and I will long once again for the rain.