Today was the first day when I felt like I couldn’t remember what winter felt like. It’s a bizarre New England phenomenon: when I’m in winter it’s as if there was never a summer, all my brain can register is SNOW, SNOW, SNOW. Then summer comes in all its majesty and it’s as if a cold wind never blew through our little valley. Autumn and spring are fast and fleeting, but perhaps that’s part of their magic. May is particularly stunning in western Massachusetts. The flowering trees and shrubs are starting to bloom, many of the most showy flowers unveil themselves, the sky turns a brilliant azure, and the sun… oh to feel the sun! With summer imminent also comes longer days, so today after work I was thrilled to be able to have time in our yard, or should I specify, our gardens.
I love gardening. I remember this twenty-something game where people would ask, “what order would you put sleep, sex, and food in in terms of your favorite things?” Me, I would wedge gardening into that divine cocktail (and don’t even ask me to sort them). I could spend hours in our gardens doing everything from mundane maintenance (aka weeding, weeding, and more weeding) to getting filthy and sweaty wrestling deep, entangled perennial roots that need to be split. There’s something about being with plants and the earth that gives me an incredible amount of peace. I like working my body strenuously and cultivating beauty through my efforts. I actually like it when my hands and feet become so dirty that the soil is etched into the lines of my palms and angles of my feet. It gives me a strange sense of satisfaction. One day I dream of taking a master gardening class once our kids are older.
So today it gave me great joy to have an hour after work to garden with my three-year daughter and spouse. My daughter was eager to pick up the pitch fork, dragging it across the lawn under its weight. She has her own watering can and she ran to get it so that she could water the new rhubarb plant we got from a friend (that is miraculously named, “MacDonald rhubarb,” my spouse’s maiden name). It gave me such great joy to see her enjoying these small tasks; at the ready to help. My mother was a devote gardener and I am convinced that gardening is something that is shared across generations. My brother is an avid vegetable gardener, digging rows of annuals each year to supplement their meals.
Being a non-gestational, non-biological parent to my daughter, I might not be able to give her my loose curls or my lanky, straight frame or even the way my biggest laughs are those when no sound comes out, but I can give her this.
This past weekend we walked along the river path by our house and I taught her the names of all the spring wildflowers and plants that were flourishing in the woods. Trout lily, bloodroot, ostrich fern, skunk cabbage. She repeated their names and I smiled. This I can share with her.