For Being in Full Bloom

"Lynden" hanging basket from VanderGiessen Nursery

I have always hoped to be a serious gardener, and over the years have made not-very-serious efforts at it.   During college and medical school I owned so many house plants that walking into my room felt like a botanical excursion, we grew the flowers from seed that we used at our wedding, and before we had children we kept a truly ambitious vegetable garden.  Each seed catalog was studied and varieties surveyed, seedlings started in a sun room, each plant nurtured and protected, the harvest preserved with great care, shared and eaten with appreciation.

Then life happened.  I’m not sure exactly what intervened but it had something to do with raising children, a demanding job, a full barn of four legged critters, and aging parents.  Despite a move to a good size farm with an orchard, large garden spot and plenty of room for flower beds, I couldn’t muster the energy to do what needed to be done to create blooms.   Flowers took a back seat in my mind and in my life, with only a few predictable bulbs and perennials showing up year after year.

But I’m the granddaughter of a woman who had a large greenhouse full of hanging fuschia baskets that she tended and sold, and the daughter of a woman who left no side of her house or fence line without a border of carefully planned and managed flower gardens.  The colorful blooms have always called to me from the florist shops and gardening centers.

Yesterday, the siren call reached their peak and we came home with three hanging baskets in full bloom, created like a painting from a palette of tiny seedlings a few short months ago.    I’ve known the young man who created these floral masterpieces since he was in kindergarten, having watched him grow up, get married and take over the family business.  Now he is a botanical artist, something I have always aspired to, but have never achieved.

Someday I may be able to return to the nurturing of the soil, to make things beautiful and productive, feed my grandchildren’s souls and stomachs as I was fed as a child.  But for now, I’m filled with gratitude for the loveliness I see hanging outside my windows.   I’m simply blooming with happiness.

The Farm Dream

Spring on our farm is brilliant, verdant and delicious to behold.  The orchard blossoms yield to fruit and the pastures are knee high with grass.  By this time in May, the daylight starts creeping over the eastern foothills at 4 AM and the last glimpse of sun disappears at nearly 10 PM.   So many hours of light to work with!

I yearn for a dark rainy day to hide inside with a book.  Instead the lawnmower calls my name, and the fish pond needs cleaning and the garden must be weeded.  It’s not that things don’t happen on the farm during months like this.  It’s just that nothing we do is enough.  Blackberry brambles have taken over everything, grass grows faster than we can keep it mowed down, the manure piles spread on the fields in April are growing exponentially again and the foals have grown large and strong without having good halter lessons when they were much smaller and easier to control.   The weather has been so iffy that no string of days has been available for hay cutting so the fields are yielding to the point of the tallest grass collapsing under its own weight when soaked with rain.  Farmers call this “lodged” hay, flattened by the weather, and more difficult to harvest.

Suddenly our farm dream seems not nearly so compelling.

We have spent many years dreaming about the farm as we hoped it would be.  We imagined the pastures managed perfectly with fencing that was both functional and beautiful.  Our barns and buildings would be tidy and leak-proof, and the stalls secure and safe.  We’d have a really nice pick up truck with low miles on it. We would have trees pruned expertly and we’d have flower beds blooming as well as a vegetable garden yielding 9 months of the year.  Our hay would never be rained on. We would have dogs that wouldn’t run off and cats that would take care of all the rodents.  We wouldn’t have any moles, thistles, dandelions or buttercup.  The deer, coyotes, raccoons, and wild rabbits would only stroll through the yard for our amusement and not disturb anything.  We’d have livestock with the best bloodlines we could afford and a steady demand from customers to purchase their offspring at reasonable prices so that not a dime of our off-farm income would be necessary to pay farm expenses.   Our animals (and we) would never get sick or injured. And our house would always stay clean.

Dream on.  Farms are often back-breaking, morale-eroding, expensive sinkholes.   I know ours is.  Yet here we be and here we stay.

It’s home.  We’ve raised three wonderful children here.  We’ve bred and grown good livestock and great garden and orchard crops and tons of hay from our own fields.  We breathe clean air and daily hear dozens of different bird songs and look out at some of the best scenery this side of heaven.  Eagles land in the trees in our front yard. It’s all enough for us even if we are not enough for the farm.  I know there will come a time when the farm will need to be a fond memory and not a daily reality.  Until then we will keep pursuing our dream as we and the farm grow older.   Dreams age and mature and I know now what I dreamed of when I was younger was not the important stuff…

We have been blessed with one another, with the sunrises and the sunsets and everything in between.  This is the stuff that dreams are made of.