Friday morning was a rare treat in Northwest Georgia for the end of July – a clear, low-humidity day! Our weather the past two weeks has been awful, the air so hot and muggy that I didn’t want to be outside at all. So when I stepped out into the cool morning air on Friday, one of my last days of freedom before starting back to school, I felt God had given me a gift!
The kitchen painting project and dirty bathrooms would have to wait, since beautiful mornings like this are rare in the South. My vegetable garden has been neglected during these tropical days, and the weeds were practically knee high. I grabbed the hoe and went to work, and the weeds came up easily without the usual covering of dew. Next I did my “harvesting”, which, other than squash and cucumbers, has been very little this summer. For some reason, our garden has taken its time making any green beans or okra, but I went down our few bean rows and filled my plastic sand bucket about half full. I added a few small tomatoes. some green peppers and two cucumbers, and had enough for our salad for supper.
I turned then to my flowers, which have been getting by on the barest of watering the past few weeks. Clippers in hand, I cut off old flowers and trimmed back bushes. I worked companionably beside the butterflies and bumblebees, who were at their daily chores also. Since the daylilies finished their show a few weeks ago, the rest of the plants have done their best to hold their own in the heat. The Black-eyed Susan I recently planted was looking good, and the lantanas and butterfly bush were soldiering on. I felt like a coach as I went around to each one, checking on their progress, giving a little extra water here, a snip there
Parables and lessons are everywhere in the garden. The small Japanese maple tree I planted several years ago had hardly grown, but when I began watering it every day this summer, it sprouted new limbs with beautiful red leaves. I am reminded of the children at my school who just need a little tender loving care to blossom. As I water the cucumbers I think of “I am the vine, you are the branches” and how desperately I need to be connected to God. As I pull weeds I think of the seed that fell on the thorns and was choked and I think about how I want fertile soil in my life. And as I cut back the dead limbs and flowers, I am reminded of the cycle of life and death that encompasses us all, and that new life often comes from pain.