Cultivating a Life

07 Jul

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Today is my 52nd blog entry, marking one solid year of blog writing.  I’m really a novice among other mother bloggers, sort of a baby still, but I feel like I’ve grown a lot since I first started.  Even so, I am having the hardest time focusing on writing these days.  I suppose this is good because it means there is some possibility that I am getting a life.  Not that writing isn’t part of getting a life, mind you, but it does mean (more) time in front of the computer and (more) time trying to think like a smarty pants. And these are both things I have to do for my job so I am trying trying trying to get some stuff in my life that requires me to do otherwise.  I’ve been working in my “garden” trying to plant some perennials but I have this perfectly dreadful clay out there that requires a lot of muscle to work.  I’d like to sit gingerly on the ground with a little ergonomic hand shovel and some flourishing potted flowers and smilingly place them in the ground and cover them up just so, like the woman on my Miracle-Gro bag of garden soil.  Gardening looks peaceful in her yard.  It’s not peaceful in my yard.  It’s ass-busting work the labors of which won’t really quite pay off until next season; it’s a lot of 2011 Amber trying to hook up 2012 Amber, who will be very, very grateful but sheesh.  And if I’d plant some annuals I’d see some payoff now but I’ll be damned if I’m going to battle that clay only to have it die at the end of the season and never come back.  I don’t think so.  So perennials it is.

I started looking into amending my clay with compost and the like so that I’ll have better luck with more kinds of flowers, and I did that in some spots.  But then I decided to just love the clay, dig the clay, go with the clay (still working on that first one) and find out what will grown in clay unamended.  Isn’t there some way of helping something to grow and flourish that doesn’t require trying to make the groundwork be something that it is not and is never going to be, I wondered.  Yes there is, as it turns out.  So I went to the greenhouse with my gardening books and my list of clay-friendly perennials and spent time thinking thinking thinking—not in front of a computer and not like a smarty pants.  That was the fun part.  Then there was that other ass-busting part, rather less fun.  Now if you came to my house you’d see a few pretty impressive displays and several unimpressive, newly planted things which look rather sickly actually, partly because they sat baking in the absurdly hot sun while I wrestled with that stinking clay and partly because once in the ground they were pummeled by rainstorms.  (Feast or famine, when it rains it pours, if it’s not one thing it’s another….)  But NEXT year my friends, next year, prepare to be amazed.  I was amazed to find that the little daisy I planted last year is a plant the size of Cleveland now.  Actually I planted 4 of them, truth be told, and 3 of them are MIA but the 4th one, the 4th one is terrific.  (You can see it in the photo.)  Some flowers are fading as others come in but, as daisies are my favorite flower, I am delighted. 

Any of us can see, I’m sure, the metaphors for motherhood here.  There are things we plant that die at end of “season” and never come back, it’s true, though we scarcely have the option of avoiding that like we can avoid planting annuals.  And so much of it is metaphysical back-breaking work without a clear sense, or any sense, of what will thrive in children since it takes so long to see how things are turning out.  And of course plenty of the long-term ideas and principles we sow, which we hope will come back year after year, never quite take root but some of them, like these daisies, really take hold and surprise us.  One of the tricks is learning to work with the soil and the climate we’re in, with moderate amendments, perhaps, but for the most part trying to work with the materials we’ve got and learning how to cultivate beauty and life from that.  My son started high school today so he is on my mind, both in terms of hoping he’ll be able to thrive in that climate and weather it storms, and in terms of hoping I’ve worked the ground in which he is rooted in a way that fosters a vibrant life.  Thinking of you today, my son.


Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Families, Motherhood, Parenting


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2 responses to “Cultivating a Life

  1. r4dic4lf3mm3

    July 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I share your gardening woes; I too have clay dirt in my yard. I have had to carry over 10 bags of gardening soil to my garden/flower beds. Once I got everything planted, and the plants began to thrive, a mole ate the roots of my largest tomato plant just before the tomatoes got big enough to harvest. Then the neighbor’s dog stomped on my squash plant and stunted its growth. Fortunately, the wildflowers and sunflowers I planted are thriving. Jade (my two year old) helped me plant the sunflowers and has really enjoyed watching them grow. It has become part of our morning ritual to measure the growth of the sunflowers and water them. I hear that she has added gardening to her pretend play during the day. She takes her dolls outside at her dad’s house and pretends to measure her sunflowers and water them, lol. Hopefully she will take with her several lessons from the gardening experience. I think she will.
    On another note, this will be my oldest daughter’s first year of high school too. She will be starting in a month, and it feels bitter sweet for me. I have a much easier time talking with and relating to her now, but it won’t be long till she is more interested in her peer group more than her mom. It is hard to believe that she is nearly an adult. I am really proud of the person that she has become and the life lessons that she has retained from me so far.

  2. Andrea

    July 8, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Just leaving a comment to let you know I am still reading, Amber. And, I really found this post moving for me today in hopes that the ass-busting work it feels like I am doing with my 4 year old these days will flourish into a garden of peonies (my fav flower) one day…can it be soon? not like seeing her off to high school soon, but say by the end of summer soon? no? darn. I will keep tilling the “clay” for now.


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