Gardens and Graduates

I started my tomato plants indoors weeks ago, initially keeping them in the relative warmth and southern sunshine of a shelf in the window above the freezer in our laundry room. When they outgrew the laundry room, I jerry-rigged a clear-garbage-bag-incubator/greenhouse in the east window of the below-room-temperature upstairs bedroom. The geraniums were similarly situated in the west window by my art table.

Later, once the sunroom by the front door actually felt like a sunroom rather than a walk-in freezer, I put the tomatoes there during daylight hours, and shuffled them inside at night until the danger of freezing was past. Every time I checked, watered, or moved them, I’d run my hand through their leaves to simulate air movement and encourage them to strengthen their stems in resistance. They’d need this strong backbone to withstand the winds that cruise along the south side of the house where they would eventually spend the summer months.

Even with all my care to harden off the plants before finally transplanting them under a homemade wire-hoop-and-plastic “greenhouse,” they weren’t as resilient as I had hoped. The cool nights and early mornings weren’t a problem because of the insulating cover. Daytime exposure to direct sunlight sunburned a few tender topmost leaves, but nothing too concerning. I had even anticipated the prevailing west winds and put a stake on the east side of each of the tallest plants.

But one day a blustery wind whipped at the plastic cover and left the plants brutally exposed. All of the staked plants survived because they had the support needed to keep their still-strengthening stems from bending and breaking. Three of the shorter, un-staked plants were not so fortunate. The wind was too much for their untried youth. They bent and broke at the base of their stems.

I’ve since provided a stake for each of the remaining shorter plants.

Now, a few windy days later, all of the plants have developed thicker, hardy stems. Their roots have found purchase. They are established and growing. A few have even begun to form blossoms.

Ninety-two graduates “walked the stage” at my school last Friday. I fear that there are few of them whose stems are still too thin, too pliable and prone to easy bending and breaking. I wonder if they have the right support in the right places, supports they can lean into, supports that will hold fast. The winds of life can be gentle, but they can also become unrelenting storms. I hope that these young people have deep roots and sturdy supports. I hope their stems thicken, firm and strong and growing. I hope they don’t break. I hope — and pray. ▫️

☕️ Contented Longing

A Saturday Caesura

Another winter storm blew through and returned the snow that a chinook licked up last week. The landscape is smooth and soft and clean again, which feels more February-ish than puddles, half-frozen mud, and patches of gravel. I bought more bird seed the other day because of the new snow, but couldn’t resist buying a few packages of garden seeds because part of me is beginning to yearn for spring. Another part of me just wants to soak in the pristine white fields and cerulean blue skies forever. Don’t leave me just yet, I want to tell them. But then, I can’t wait to start the geraniums soon, and then the tomatoes and peppers, and hello Green, I’m so glad you’re back.

Life exists in this tension between yearning and contentment. Sometimes I forget that I can feel both at the same time and this is okay. I can know both great joy and deep sorrow in the same moment. I can disagree with someone and still love them. I can experience solitude without resenting the loneliness of it. I can enjoy the job that often exhausts me. I can engage fully with a beautiful and broken world and yet cry with all my heart, even so, come Lord Jesus.

☕️ Listening

A Saturday Caesura

Water gurgles along the eaves-troughs that border the roof. Wind sighs its way through a stand of sodden trees across the street. The diesel engine of a train and thunder blend their rumbles somewhere not far off.

Listening to the birthing of a storm shifts my focus from the overwhelming tasks of the day to a place of calming stillness. Odd that the growing bluster outside would lead to such quietness in my spirit.

The gentle spit spat of raindrops on the window soon becomes a steady thrumming, then an aggressive attack that pummels window, roof, and deck. The weather app had warned of a severe thunderstorm this evening, but so far the thunder is passive, mostly uninterested in participating in its own event; this storm is about relentless rain assaulting the earth rather than special effects in the sky.

I close my eyes and listen, forgetting about the piles of yet-to-be-organized files and the rising pressure to be prepared for a school year that bodes of endless uncertainty.

Right now, there is just the sound of rain. Steady. Rhythmic. Soothing even in its violence.