I’ve finally returned to my marriage, my home and my life in Chicago. My studio is set and I look ahead to a productive fall. I have never perceived autumn as a harbinger of death, cold and decay. It is a new season of anticipation and hope, just as the start of every school year was.
Gardens and their many metaphors are a present topic on some of the blogs I follow. With all of the Midwest’s horticultural bounty so readily available, how could they not? I bought these zinnias at the farmer’s market yesterday and while walking home I reflected on my childhood garden.
Apparently I showed some interest in my mother’s roses, and when I was 10, she designated a small area that I could cultivate. The first year I planted rows of seed according to the flower's established height. (My varietal preference would develop in time.) Entirely responsible for the care, watering and weeding, I was delighted in July and August when my labors yielded beautiful flowers. I had learned patience, responsibility and planning. Things I forgot for a long time.
One can draw analogies between the garden and so many areas of life: love, friendship, care and responsibility. Plants that are forced and controlled can become unnatural, dependant and stunted. They lack the characteristics that gave them their initial beauty and hardiness. Similarly, the garden left untended falls prey to recalcitrant weeds and invasive pests. It may wither or go to seed. As in life, the balance between neglect and cultivation is delicate.
Though an avowed Francophile, I am uncomfortable in their highly manicured gardens. I much prefer the English garden where plants are selected for their peculiar attributes and then tended so they grow according to their own design, not the gardener’s. But of course, these are lessons learned, forgotten and learned again.