(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 5, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
I awoke Saturday morning feeling a bit down over some recent news I received. I opened the blinds to be greeted by the soft grey blue hues of what would soon be a bright, glorious sky. The garden beckoned as it always did. The pinks and peaches of one of my beautiful salvias were beginning to glow ready to greet the coming of the morning sun. The lone sunflower was already awake and ready for the radiant heat of what would be another glorious, warm day in the low desert. Despite this, I simply turned away and made my way to the kitchen for some breakfast. Out of habit, I opened the blinds in the kitchen as well and the first rays of the morning sun smacked me right across the face as if to say "Snap out of it!" - reminiscent of Cher's infamous line in Moonstruck.
I added a medley of berries and bananas to some cereal and made my way outside. No one else was awake yet so this would be a perfect time to commune with the garden in relative peace and quiet. Pulling the sliding glass door shut, I made my way to my favorite bench and sat in audience of a spectacular symphony of bird song and tree leaves responding to the slight breeze in the air. Everyone should have breakfast like this. As the chorus continued my eyes surveyed the garden. All my plans were coming together and I was immediately pleased with the result of my labor. Granted, there was not much to see as we are - despite the above average warm days - in the midst of winter but I could imagine how everything would look in the spring and summer.
The concerns I had before entering the garden were beginning to fade away. I focused on the lone sunflower. Though only one, my mind's eye recollected the sunflower fields I discovered during an unplanned journey in France and my heart soared. Such a gift in exchange for giving this plant a chance. This sunflower was one of three that grew as the result of the birds making a mess. The other two perished but this one survived and began to grow taller and stronger despite my forgetting to water it. This sunflower is a survivor. It was almost pulled during one of my clean-up sprees but I thought I would give it a chance no matter how out of place it was. Then, just as it was preparing to bloom, we received our first frost of the season. The sunflower wilted but came back to life in the days that followed. By giving that seedling a chance I was graced by its beauty on a morning when I really needed it.
As I sat, I realized I had become a part of a morning ritual which occurred whether I was present or not. Those plants and flowers unaffected by the cold provided their colorful blooms and on the breeze the fragrance of alyssum drifted along happily ever present for anyone to enjoy. The symphonic bird song resonated and provided the ultimate garden soundtrack. Life began anew as small seedlings popped up seemingly everywhere in response to the warmer, longer days.
The cereal long gone and the remaining milk nearly dry, I remained sitting and taking it all in. I helped create all of this and it was wondrous. I love to share all the plans I have for the garden. But, in all actuality, the garden has plans for me. I create the beds, till the soil and plant the seeds. I weed, prune, feed and make all my plans, and schemes a reality. In turn, the garden rewards me with a bounty of lush vegetation, colorful, fragrant flowers and food for the table. More than this, the garden provides a solace and a refuge. No matter what sort of day I am having, it is there to welcome me in all its glory. Yes, my garden does indeed have plans for me.
All Images were taken by the author.