Friday, January 13, 2017

In Patience

Some people call these little flowers impatiens. They don’t really look much like the impatiens I grew up with further north, so I call them vinca. Anyway, they’re my kind of plant. They’re hardy and tenacious and bloom daily.

I am a reluctant and less-than-talented gardener, but I enjoy refurbishing my yard twice a year. Fall is time for trimming back, weeding, mulching, and getting ready for the few months of relative down time the plants give us in this climate. It takes time to do it right—at least, it does when you do it by hand—but it’s very satisfying. Peaceful.

I frequently cringe over the institutional landscaping philosophy down here. All floral plantings in the medians and development entrances get scrapped four times a year. A crew comes in, clears all the plants out as soon as the blooming dies down, then replaces them with new plants in the peak of bloom. I suppose everyone wants to see where their HOA fees go, but I can’t get behind that “we need it instantly and we need it perfect” mentality.

It seems wasteful to me—and irresponsible. In The Little Prince, the fox says, “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” Doesn’t that apply to plants, too? Anyway, I feel a tie to my hardworking vinca, in blooming season or not.

Don’t get me wrong; they bloom all year. But in fall, some branches die off and little baby plants emerge into the sunshine that die-off creates. When not as many plants bloom for a little while, it can look a bit scraggly. But adolescent humans can get leggy and we don’t throw them out. Besides, fresh mulch makes everything all right.

I’ve had another lesson in patience lately. My loyal Green Car had a day when it periodically didn’t start. I took it to my amazing mechanics, who couldn’t find the problem (of course it started for them all day!), but tightened everything anyway. So now I try to start my car far enough ahead that I can make other arrangements if it doesn’t start. I start it five minutes before we leave for the bus, so I have time to call a neighbor if it won’t go—that kind of thing. Those extra minutes of preparation time have really calmed down a lot of the rushing in my life. In our lives, since I’m nearly always driving the kids somewhere.

So far, the Green Car has started every single time since that one day. And every single time, I give thanks. I truly appreciate my car. Thinking of the gymnastics I’d have to go through and the favors I’d have to ask if I didn’t have a working car makes me so grateful!

It’s easy to get caught up in the dryer timer that’s on the fritz or the leggy flowerbeds, but why? Everything has its season.

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