Monday, May 18, 2020

In Forgotten Places, Where Stories Unfold

In every good garden there is a corner that is forgotten. It may be behind an old shed, or down a path. Some of these places are under porches, beneath an old apricot tree, or way out back where broken pottery, and worn out wheel barrows gather. There you can find bent tomato cages, rusted cans, a tea pot that's missing its lid, empty seed packets, a length of string, and all of these things, leftover for a long while, become invisible. Perhaps the things were stored on a shelf that's been battered by rain, then sun, and someone meant to come back and tidy it all up. A cup tumbles, a raccoon rummages, looking for a midnight snack, and soon this corner of the garden is grown over, disheveled, a bit hidden, and people stop seeing it.

Our busy lives take us away to school and on errands, or to offices, where we stay all through long days. When at last we come home from school, or jobs, from long drives and band practice, vacation, the market, then we have other places to go, and things to do, and there is less time... less time to see that the pots and broken cups, and bits of string have shifted around, that flowers have popped up, and old, tired things have become something new, something enchanted. This is the place, in every good garden, where small wonders happen, and they beckon us to notice, to stop awhile and play.

Late last Winter, on a day that was hinting at Spring, I noticed it. I walked the long way around the house, looking for something lost. Where could it be, I wondered aloud. It has to be around somewhere, our bucket or garden spade, or some such thing. I was home, all day, and with no where to go, no school, no errands, no rushing here or there, and I was looking for something that I believed to be a very important thing, when the corner of the garden we had left alone, suddenly appeared to me, looking peculiar, seemingly new.

On first glance, it was old dirty stuff, and I thought Oh, someone should clean that up. And I was about to rush away, feeling urged to be busy. I looked again, at the ground. I saw more. I saw the bird house, a gift from friends that had moved far away. But when did it fall off the wall? Why hadn't any one picked it up, dusted it off? Crouching down low, I saw the sweet alyssum, tiny white flowers that grow like miniature bouquets. They smell like honey. I sat down. The ground was cool, soft from rain, but not too damp. I took a deep breath, and peered into the green grass, at blossoms, bugs, stones, moss.

Behind the birdhouse, I saw the cup I'd painted, a shell, a clay tea pot, more flowers, tiny meadows, a wooden fence, a foot path, a paved road through a small woodland. The trees were bare, with hints of new growth to come. The longer I stayed, the more appeared. I saw things that were dear, that brought back memories. I saw hints and glimpses of picnics, celebrations, fairy lights, cookouts, family reunions. I could see gardens tended, and cobwebs swept away. I recalled beach outings and long walks along the shore, collecting seashells, watching crabs, touching sea anemone. I imagined we could be in the redwoods, hiking a fern lined path over jutting roots, along a cold creek that bubbled and dashed to the sea. And off the path, a little ways, an opening where we could sit and watch mushrooms grow, hear tree frogs sing, and feel streams of sunlight falling between towering trees to cast shadows, and make the trillium bloom.

With a little time to slow down, I saw the forgotten places in the gardens, where small wonders happen. These are the corners where I could be still, take notice.

Every good garden has a corner that beckons us to come out and play.

Late last winter, I found such a place, and saw enchantment there, and as I lingered, stories began to unfold.

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