Enjoying the Garden
The scent of flowers drifts through my nose and into my spirit. A mix between jasmine and honeysuckle, these flowers pop out each year from the vine which worked its way from one side of our house, across the other side, along the fence, and over a couple arches created for them. Even during this season, I don’t smell them all the time, more in the mornings and evenings and even then not consistently, they are there one moment and gone with the next inhale. The unexpected sudden burst of the fragrance ensures surprise and fresh appreciation every time I smell them. I wish I could bottle this smell and keep it with me all year. But them maybe I wouldn’t appreciate this season, with all its fleeting joys as much.
October is the heart of dry season, so it is a bit miraculous that we still have green grass and living plants in our little garden. I remember the barrenness of this patch of soil even during green season when we first moved in. It is incredible and satisfying, seeing life and order and beauty were there was emptiness before.
I always look forward to the blooming lavender jacaranda trees, and how they blanket the ground in a carpet of pastel. But I always forget the added beauty of the plumeria and the bougainvillea which overlap the jacaranda blooms, and the bright red flamboyance which blooms not long after, dropping crimson petals on all the other plants so that it looks like everything is bursting forward with red blossoms.
I sit in my cane woven swing and I read bits from the books I brought with me. Forrest Bathing by Qin Li reads like poetry. I take a break to breath in with each line, and I look around me before turning each page. The sky is a subdued pink in the midst of a sunset, the wind rustles through the trees around me, the sunlight dapples down in unexpected patterns, and the birdsong sooths my mind. I am so glad I finished work before 5 today, and that I can take this time of transition.
This year, and partly because of this book, I have learned to enjoy the world around me with all of my senses. Earlier, I picked and ate fresh raspberries and boysenberries on my morning walk with the dogs, and every day that a new strawberry is ready I love the exquisite sweetness produced in our own hanging garden.
I feel the wind on my face. I love the sense of rocking back and forth in my swing, like I am untethered and light on this earth and yet enjoying nature all the more. I am surrounded by flowers we planted and rose bushes we picked out together on dates to our friend’s nursery. Today, pink and orange roses are blooming. The garden changes as the bushes cycle their colors.
I flip through a quick chapter of my second book, Walden Pond by Henry David Thorough. I didn’t think I would enjoy this one as much as I am enjoying it. He writes of a simple life, a life unfettered by drives to consume and gossip and life connected with nature, content in solitude and simplicity, life concerned with ordering the mind and the soul. I don’t agree with some of his philosophy, just like I don’t agree with the entire world view of Li, but I can appreciate these men, separated by half the world and 170 years. They teach me how to rest, how to be present in this moment, in this space.
How much of my life have I rushed from one thing to the next? How much have I forgotten to take transitions, forgotten to appreciate the seasons and the beauty around me? I want to have more afternoons like this, to have more appreciation of where God has placed me, to live in healthy rhythms and to live through all of my senses.
We don’t own this land, but we steward it and order it and care for it and enjoy its beauty. We’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in the last ten years. I wonder how many more seasons, dry or rainy, we will have here. I’m thankful that we can treasure this time and this place so fully in the present moment.