Three months of writing nights, and I’m wondering how I survived more than two years without recording a single string of sentiments. Each week when I assume this position on my white wicker perch overlooking my yard, random observations and variant experiences comingle, forming themselves into emergent discoveries. Chance pairings of literal growth and emotional entanglements take on figurative significance. And tonight, life is all about the moonflower.
During my recent garden make-over, I planted moonflowers in my new side garden. As I turned the packet of seeds over in my hand to give attention to the planting instructions, I took immediate notice of the alternate name: the evening glory. Momentarily, I was transported through time and space, gazing out my grandmother’s kitchen windows at her morning glories. As a young girl, Grammy’s garden was home to some of my fondest memories. She had snap dragons and black eyed susans growing out of the cracks in the cement, all fenced in. Beyond the fences, there was a vast array of colorful blooms like marigolds and bleeding hearts.
But in the fence, on the fence, along the fence… morning glories. How they fascinated me, these climbing vines, dormant in the night and blossoming in the morning! Their daily disappearance and reappearance delighted me in my youth, and they were my grandma’s pride and joy. There were times I believed Grammy loved the mornings simply because she could watch the blooms open from the kitchen window as she fixed breakfast, signaling the dawn of a new day. Sleepovers at Gram’s meant Ramen Pride in a special chicken soup bowl that now resides in my kitchen cabinet, bocce ball in the backyard with Grandpa and my brothers, and, if I was a good girl, helping Grammy in the garden.
Looking back, I probably spent more time playing with the snapdragons to open their mouths and give them words than I did helping, but the fragments of memories captured her for a lifetime in my eyes as a woman hard at work on her knees in the garden. Turning over that packet of seeds in my soil covered hands, on my knees in my own garden as a grown woman, I was overwhelmed with the sense of nostalgia. It did not occur to me until that moment that I was carrying on my grandmother’s legacy. Though she’s now ninety-one years old and confined to a wheelchair, I still picture her in my mind’s eye on her knees.
Last week it rained on Tuesday, and I was pleased that my renovated garden would be nourished. It continued to rain for two more days, and I admitted the failure of my side garden. Surely the freshly planted seeds would have drowned, and I made a mental note not to take their failure personally as I could not be personally held responsible for three days of rain. In my original garden beds, the rain helped the impatiens reestablish themselves, but the new geraniums had the life practically pelted out of them by the torrential downpour. How could these tiny seeds have possibly endured?
It’s been twelve days since I planted five kinds of seeds in the side garden. It’s been five days since the rains ceased. Not one day has passed without checking on that garden. Today, I came home to inch high spurts of green in the center of the side garden. The evening glories broke soil! I am already imagining them to full vibrancy, climbing up the sides of my porch like Grammy’s morning glories on her fence. Perhaps soon, their white blossoms will open just beside me on one of these writing nights, and I’ll celebrate with them as they signal the dusk of a new eve of thought and reflection. For it’s at night when my ideas blossom and give hope just as the dawn of a new day did for my grandmother.
I realize now that I gave neither those seeds nor nature enough faith. They were the newest addition to my garden, and they were tiny kernels of life. If grown plants could not withstand the rains, how could the moonflower at its starting point? None of the other seeds have dared to break ground. Wonder and amazement at the appearance of those green shoots drove me to Google. As it turns out, the evening glory will yield better results when its seed is soaked in lukewarm water for a day or two. While I was fearing the worst, nature was accounting for my lack of foresight and providing the optimal planting experience.
Until yesterday, my last first date took place eleven years ago with the man I eventually married. After my divorce, I had one relationship that grew out of a friendship and has since returned to one. My new adventures in Christian dating sites yielded their first face-to-face meeting: coffee at Panera Bread at 7 pm. Ninety-minutes of lukewarm conversation did not yield promising results; 9 pm found me googling the acceptable method of communicating a lack of interest after a first date. Apparently, in 2015, a text message is appropriate for an acquaintance of less than two weeks. So I typed, “Thanks for meeting me tonight. I didn’t feel the necessary chemistry to move forward, but I think you’re a great guy and I wish you the best of luck in your search!” He replied in kind, wishing me luck, and reminding me to keep my head up. First “first date” down. How many more will there be before my future husband makes it a last one?
Some lessons are worth revisiting. Not every flower will thrive in my garden, but I’ll never know what will bloom best until I take a plunge and plant it. I’ve seen a handful of plant varieties fail, but I keep trying. My most recent attempt is the side garden in which I planted five types of seeds. So far, only one has made an appearance. But I will keep my head up, because when it comes to the emotional garden I’m planting, one is all it takes.
The highlights of sleepovers at Grammy’s were those morning glories. Every other flower in her back yard kept its color. These vines might have been overlooked upon a Friday night arrival if I didn’t know what they promised when I awoke the next day. As a sprout of a young girl, my grandmother was teaching me the essence of faith. The blossoms always opened. You could practically set your watch by them.
Now, with my biological clock ticking, I’ll choose faith over fear and let my garden and my writing keep teaching me how to thrive as a single woman in my thirties. Grammy knew that her countless hours laboring in her garden would yield extraordinary life and growth. If the only seed I planted last weekend that takes root is that evening glory, then consider me blessed. I’ll carry on her legacy and toil the same way in my gardens. One of these days, a first date will be my last, and the evening glories won’t be my only companion on this white wicker perch.