Joyful Endurance is the latest lesson from my garden. This story surprised and inspired me. In that spirit, I offer it to you.
First of All, Why Buy Flowers in Late October?
Unless you live in a Southern Hemisphere country like Australia, it makes little sense.
Pay good money for flowers, annuals? Dare to put them in the ground when a frost might arrive any day and crush them?
Originally, I Had No Thought of Joyful Endurance
Instead I simply wanted a little floral escapism. You know, when you yearn to see something pretty in the yard.
Especially since fallen leaves are poetic, in their moldering way. (For evidence, see my love of autumn in the teenage-angsty part of “Bigger than All the Night Sky,” my memoir.) Only they lose a lot of their charm... by the time the gorgeous fall colors fade. What are we left with then? Scraggly heaps of tree discards, all in a defeated shade of brown.
Complicating the mess, what about the position of houses on my side of the street? Compounding the dead leaf problem!
- True, on this side of the street, we get steady sunshine.
- But neighbors’ leaves migrate here, too.
- No matter what, every September it starts: a six-month decor of dreary brown shreds.
Color. In my yard I wanted some pretty color. On impulse I drove to my favorite garden center and bought a whole flat of pansies: Tiny baby faces, in shades of purple, yellow, marigold, pink and white. Larger pansies were available, too: large and lush, so confident they reminded me of big beach umbrellas. Twice the size and triple the price.
No thank you. Tiny little flowers were plenty for me, economy size. Maybe they’d only last a week. Meanwhile they’d bring some joy to my heart before winter closed in.
Sure, We Got Snow Last Winter
No Minnesota-like walls of snow. But occasionally a bit of white decor would delicately cover the lawn. Helping to reduce my guilt over all the weeding.
And isn’t that the downside of loving your garden? All the guilt over never weeding quite enough. Tell me I’m not the only one!
Weeds and dull leaves, that’s what I’d see when viewing my front yard. Bitter cold air for walking. And visually a daily reminder of chores left undone. (Since I preferred to do far more enjoyable things, like the joy of RES sessions and writing this blog.)
In my neighborhood, thankfully, we don’t get much wintertime drama. Occasionally a red fox will play in my back yard. As for the ubiquitous squirrels, year round, what do these sillies do? They treat my entire block like their own personal amusement park. Ergggg.
All winter long, I’d stop to see how my pansies were doing. Was it enjoyment or more a sense of impending doom? My gaze could be summed up as one part admiration and one part a morbid, “Are they dead yet?”
Finally Spring Came
Astoundingly, the snow cleared up. Finally we got all the fall leaves bagged and vanquished.
Only then did it strike me: How my pansies had never left.
Snow didn’t kill them. This next photo doesn’t do them justice, but at least it can give you an idea of my survivor flowers.
(And if you click on this photo, it will become far easier to see those pansies.)
In this part of my garden, what showed up in early spring? Scraggly leftovers from last year’s perennial growth (lariope and such). Beautifully punctuated by surviving purple, yellow, and pink.
Tiny but tremendously cheering, those pansies of mine! Still living and glowing, astoundingly vibrant!
Joyful Endurance Inspired Me
These pansies, seemingly so delicate. Frail, even.
Yet truth be told, they turned out far stronger than expected. Mounded pansies endured through snow and rain; braving both coldness and the general slog of winter. My enduring pansies astounded me.
However, once spring began, most of my admiration went to the newbies:
- Purple crocuses
- Showy hyacinths
- Sun-colored daffodils
- Big, bright tulips
- And the new windflowers on the side of my house, bulbs that I planted last year. Now blooming with a bold and twinkly blue-violet.
Only Guess What?
After a couple of weeks, most of those flowery blooms have blown away. (It didn’t help their longevity that we got a lot of rain, followed by a big storm of wind.)
If you look at this next photo, which flowers now are the hardiest and brightest???? Amazingly, the pansies!
Just click on this photo and take a good look at how much those pansies have grown, blooming away.
I do love my garden, all of it. Okay, except for the weeds…
Of course, I fall in love with every flower that blooms. But these humble little flowers, joyful and colorful — who knew they could last like this? Pansies have become the bloomingest flowers in my garden!
Recently, in a comment here, BOB wrote: What I’ve taken from the Age of Awakening is that it’s an age of consciousness chaos.
I get that. “Consciousness chaos.” Although I didn’t come up with BOB’S witty label, sure, I’ve written about that before. As in the Forging Steel post (with so many great comments from you Blog-Buddies).
Let’s make no mistakes. Now we’re just in the transitional years, no call to despair. Please, let’s not call this “chaos.” Rather, it’s just the first decade, still, of that big deal for humanity that I call “The Age of Awakening.”
The majority of human beings? They’re struggling, confused about adapting, sometimes making mistakes as they sort things out. Understandably! Most folks don’t have a clue yet what’s going on.
One thing that might help would be “The New Strong,” which aims to bring clarity. It gives practical ideas about how to adjust to our post-postmodern, distinctly different, new rules for living. Rules that supplant the age-old, Age of Faith rules for living. And, yes, BOB put it well. Many good people today have slipped into “consciousness chaos.”
As for you, Blog-Buddies, you’ve refused to fall into today’s all-too-common consciousness lifestyle problems. Instead you progress as best you can. Using discernment in what you believe. And finding joy as best you can.
Mostly, though, you’re still showing up. Day after day, you’re giving your reasonable best to others. Not simply enduring, you’re choosing to live in integrity. Harder to do with full human complexity… compared to living like a simple, little, cheap-&-glorious bunch of pansies.
And yet my springtime garden has reminded me of this truth: Whether we seem important to others or not, we can be important to ourselves. We can bloom. We can thrive. We can be joy and bring joy.