As winter lands lightly in France, with the first soft snowflakes in the driveway, I look sadly at the empty garden. It’s tidy now, layered with compost and dry leaves, waiting for spring.
Like the garden plot, I have worked hard this summer and fall and need to step back and rest. But I feel a deep sorrow as the growing part of the year draws to its natural close.
A Simple Miracle
It’s the simplest combination in the world: a seed, soil, sunshine, and water. Planting in the garden is this simple, but the very simplicity reveals the miracle of life as you watch your seeds sprout and grow.
Working in the garden, I am exposed time and time again to this simple miracle. Without words, without theories, without arguments, it overwhelms my senses and I understand, however briefly, that I too am a small part of the universe, a small piece of the miracle.
This feeling fades in winter, as I leave behind my empty garden and turn to other occupations. Knowing this, I already miss it.
All winter long, the garden will lie in quiet repose under the dark sky. Unlike the garden, I will be busy in winter, busy with the tasks of life, writing articles, taking a road trip, repainting the house, considering the plot of my next novel. Each of these activities has a joy of its own, but none is exactly like the gardening magic.
I will miss the quiet happiness of digging in the earth, poking in small seeds, and tending them as they grow. That first sprout never fails to move me, the first leaf. Though it is repeated over and over during the growing season, I never quite get accustomed to it and greet each green shoot with amazement.
It is this amazement, the awe and astonishment of a child, that is the greatest gift the gardener receives for her efforts. When we are children, everything is new, everything surprising. Gardening returns me to this state of childlike amazement, a sense of awe at the very nature of things.
With the coming of winter, I become an adult again, responsible, competent, busy, getting things done. This is a necessary part of life as well, but how can I not miss the creative awe of summer?