"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Life is Better When I’m Dirty

Life's a garden--dig it!  - Joe Dirt

Life’s a garden–dig it! – Joe Dirt

I glance at the reflection in the mirror and frown.   Hair escaping its ponytail—and not in the good way like it does in the movies—smeared eyeliner under the eyes from my earlier make up and a sweaty smudge of dirt across my cheek.  The woman in the mirror looking back at me looks old and tired.

The world has its natural beauties—those fortunate women who can get by with a touch of mascara and lip gloss.  And then there are women like me, a pretty outfit and an hour with some make up and styling tools and we can really glam it up when the occasion calls for it.

When it’s early in the morning and I’m going for a run or the gym, I’m lucky to even have on matching shoes if I don’t set them out the night before.  Of course it’s not until I get there (and of course the gym is full of wall to wall mirrors) that I see the extent of my messy appearance.  It’s not that I’m vain—it’s just a little disappointing when I realize I really do look my age and can’t pull off the I-didn’t-even-try-but-look-at-me look.

I’ll blame the movies and television for these high expectations of looking good no matter what the circumstances.  Remember Helen Hunt in the movie Twister?  They were in pounding rain storms and high winds—a tornado even—and she still had a clean white tank top on with her hair only mildly tousled.  Or in television shows when someone wakes up in the morning and they still have flawless skin, bright, lash-fringed eyes and only a stray hair out of place for effect.  No eye boogers or drool tracks at all unless they are supposed to be rousing from an all-night drinking session.  Ah, the willing suspension of disbelief we give to Hollywood!  Do you imagine the farmer’s daughter milking a cow at 4 in the morning completed her chores with her hair neatly braided?  Me neither.

I contemplate the notion of my aging appearance as I finish up the row I am digging out in the garden.  And later while I’m scrubbing the floor of the bathtub.  I’ve spent a lot of money these past few years on magic potions and creams to hide the sun damage spots on my cheeks and to prevent wrinkles.  But as much as I love getting dressed up and playing with make up, once I’ve gotten my hair and make up done and put on something nice, looking at me is about all I’m good for.

The truth is, life is better when I’m dirty.  When I haven’t taken the time to do hair and make up and put on halfway decent looking clothes, I don’t mind breaking a sweat or getting up to my elbows scrubbing toilet bowls.  Because when I’m streaked with dirt and grime, I’m not trying to please anyone.  Although it may involve cleaning or another chore I don’t particularly enjoy doing, the end result makes me happy—a well-kept yard, a clean house or a stronger body.  When I do put on that dress and spend an hour primping in the mirror, that person is a happy one from the inside out.

Standing back to admire my work, I catch a glimpse at the reflection in the window I’ve just cleaned. Sweat prominently streaks through the foundation I put on for work earlier and my shirt is covered in grime and dirt.  I take one more swipe at a missed smudge on the glass and smile.

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Where’s My Panda? Thoughts on Bamboo

Photo from dididado.org

Innocent looking enough, no?

If you were to drive down my street today you might not be able to tell, but I really enjoy working in the yard. Right now, we have a fledgling Crepe Myrtle in the front yard that doesn’t look like it made it through our cold and seemingly endless winter. However, my Asiatic Lily bulbs clustered around the base of it are about to bloom, so I don’t want to dig it out just yet. So we have a dead tree in the front. Surprisingly just today I got a flyer hung on my door for a tree service company. Go figure.

Digging in the dirt is something I have loved since we got our first house and I knew almost nothing about plants and landscaping. My mother-in-law taught me a lot about cutting back trees—especially not to be afraid of cutting back overgrowth. Every time I trim back bushes and trees I think of what she told me a long time ago when she compared it to raising kids. She said you have to prune back places hard sometimes, but that would allow the best parts to grow stronger. Isn’t that a great analogy to how kids grow? Like trees, the kids who are never given loving, shaping guidance to grow their best will eventually lose all form and become overgrown without direction.

Last weekend I definitely overcame my fear of trimming back hard when it came to some bamboo I planted about six years ago on the side of our house. For the past three to four years, I’ve been trying to get rid of it. It has proven to be very hard to get rid of. Originally, I planted it because I had this romantic notion from a story I read called The Fern and the Bamboo (posted below) and I loved the look of the wild bamboo that grew along the roadside on the winding roads through wine country in Missouri. The next summer after we’d moved in, I saw some wild bamboo on our way to take the kids to camp. When we went to pick them up, I brought a pot with a little dirt in it and a shovel, and we dug some up by a boat ramp. My Uncle Russell, who has an awesome green thumb, advised me to be careful about planting it. “It will take over and grow everywhere,” he told me. At the time I thought it’d be great, because it was the side of the house with the chimney and a slope that was a pain to mow. I would whack my head on the end of the chimney every time I’d mow that side. Every time. True story.

It looked nice for about a year. After that, it went bamboo crazy.

Those poor ferns—they never stood a chance. Bamboo has a root that reminds me of a dandelion. It grows straight down deep into the soil. Weed and lawn killer has little effect on killing the bamboo, in part because the root is so deep. So you have to dig it out—all the way out. I have worked on digging it out these past years and it comes back every year, albeit a little bit thinner. It went from about ten stalks of bamboo about 10 inches in diameter, to the entire side of the house in about three years. It has spread to my neighbor’s garden and in to the front of our house’s landscaping. It is determined—but then again, so am I!

Since there aren’t any Rent-A-Pandas around to loan me a panda to eat all of it, I continue to dig, pull and compost. And repeat. I’m almost there, with about 5 – 6 feet left in the little corner where it all started. It’s been a lesson learned in a most labor-intensive way. My advice? Never design your landscaping based on inspirational stories and listen to good gardeners’ advice. Oh, and stay away from the bamboo!


The Fern and the Bamboo

One day I decided to quit…I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality…. I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

“God”, I said. “Can you give me one good reason not to quit?”

His answer surprised me.

“Look around”, He said. “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”

“Yes”, I replied.

“When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

“In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. The same in year four.

“Then in the fifth year, a tiny sprout emerged from the earth.

Compared to the fern, it was seemingly small and insignificant.

But just six months later, the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall.

It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.

“Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo.. I will never quit on you.

“Don’t compare yourself to others.” He said. “The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful.

“Your time will come”, God said to me. “You will rise high”

“How high should I rise?” I asked.

“How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in return.

“As high as it can?” I questioned

“Yes.” He said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.”

I left the forest, realizing that God will never give up on me. And He will never give up on you.

Never regret a day in your life.

Good days give you happiness; bad days give you experiences; both are essential to life.

Author Unknown

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