Lilacs are the most perfect of buds, expertly wrapped in leathery veneer. Once the weather turns, they swell before our eyes, making kinetic the potential stored in them all winter.
I remember my mother cutting flowers from the lilac bush outside our back door, bouquets that spilled over a large snifter vase — the centerpiece of our dining room table. If I close my eyes, I can almost smell the memories.
I spent most of yesterday cleaning away leaf litter and the remnants of last year’s garden. What started out as a chilly morning quickly moved to no-coat status courtesy of a bright, warming sun. I sawed — yes, sawed — down the dried plumes of Miscanthus and removed spent Sedum, Echinacea, and Rudbeckia stems that provided texture and height all winter.
The last few months have been among the best of my life, both personally and professionally. I just described my life to a friend as “never having been more zen.” My inner circle has become more intimate and beautifully deep, taking center stage while the distractions of life have moved into the wings or disappeared altogether.
It’s interesting how those of us in four-season climates talk about the plants in our gardens — in terms of how long they’ll last. Annuals come and go in one growing season. Perennials come back every year, but mostly lie dormant below the ground in winter. Trees and shrubs — we think of them as the bones, the stalwart foundation, that last for years, perhaps a lifetime. We cherish them for their presence over time, rather than their value in the moment.
I bought this coffee mug in 2016 at the Glacier Point gift shop in Yosemite National Park to add to my collection of mug memories. My son and I were on day three of our summer trip to California. Printed on it is a quote from naturalist John Muir.
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
It was the perfect senitiment to capture this adventure of ours through central California. We’ve hiked a lot of paths together over the years, and more than a few of them have been dirt.
I’m more determined than ever to share beauty — but that doesn’t mean I ignore all the ugliness in the world. My heart is heavy and hurting for our world right now, for the lack of compassion so evident in our civic conversation. But I can’t bear to amplify the ugliness and prolong its echo. I can only confront it along my daily path and focus on providing fresh air and respite for those on the right side of history.