This May has been so very lovely, and I was delighted to spend yesterday in the garden with Gwenanne, my wife. The last two Fridays we have ended the week by making our way to a local greenhouse to agonize over plant choices before coming home to toast our purchases as the start to the weekend. With cooler nights now (hopefully) behind us, Gwenanne decided it was safe to put a few plants in the garden in the backyard.
Our yard has been something of a balm in this COVID Gilead. I have a bit of a ritual most days, making my way from our fifteen year old Autumn Blaze Maple now 30 feet plus tall, to our Blue Beech tree as wide as it is high, and then over to my little Bur Oak now about one foot tall, saying some encouraging words to each before pilgriming to the massive Norway Maple in our front yard. I usually touch each tree along the way and give thanks for their witness to the glory of creation. The other day there was a robin in our Blue Beech, and he sang to me. I was close enough that I could see his throat throb as he hymned me into a kind of trance.
But yesterday my hands moved from the tree to terra firma. We had added some soil to our expanded gardens about three weeks ago, and I had spaded together new and old earth before my wife raked it smooth. I put my hand to Mother Earth. She was warm to the touch and as my fingers slipped beneath this surface I could feel spring cool in the humus. As I made some space to settle our tomato plants, I was met with the delightful sight of worms. So many worms adding soil to soil. I thought for a moment of the robin and now the worm. Both such gifts to me, and the worm to the robin, but not so much the other way round! Life is complicated among us homo sapiens, and no less so with the predator and the prey, whom I both adore.
My last act for the day was to plant the first two sisters of my three sisters garden: corn, beans and squash seeds from the fruits of seeds first received at a workshop at Six Nations some years ago. As I did so, I thought about the rabbits that razed my beans last year, necessitating a replanting, and the racoon who enjoyed my corn that they made theirs. Creation is remarkable but competitive. I bought some netting last year to give me an edge. We’ll see.
The trees, of course, look on and smile. They take the long view. My neighbour across the way figures that the monstrous and majestic oak in his yard predates the arrival of settlers to this part of Turtle Island known to some as North America. I am not sure of this, but I know these trees give me more than oxygen to breathe, and the vegetables from our garden make for me more soup. They make me see that I am speck in God’s world, but they also remind me that a speck too can breathe Soli Deo Gloria.