Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aspirations of a Not-So-Little Garden

I realize this blog is supposed to be about "my" little garden, but today it's about a much grander garden: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

My family and I were invited there to tape a news piece with Diane Sawyer and her staff for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  Because my husband was working and my step-daughter was at camp, the boys and I attended.  We had been there two times before so that ABC News could catch up with us and the babies born to us after their fathers were killed.  I've grown a little shy of the media over the years, but the staff at ABC News are wonderful and provide us with a nearly magical atmosphere for reconnecting with other 9/11 families.  Food, white tablecloths, a game table, more food.   And, cameras everywhere.

Fiver years ago, we ventured out with our then-preschoolers to plant a weeping cherry in the Children's Garden.  It was pouring rain then, so much that my sandals were flicking water up my legs as I walked and I had to take them off.  This year, as my son is about to enter his last year of elementary school, we made our way in the heat to check on our tree.  And, indeed, most of us wept as we paused for a moment clutching enlarged photos of our lost husbands, our children's fathers.
(taken from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Web site - I hope they don't mind me using it!)

I say all this as a frame of reference for why I was two-hours away in Brooklyn in the first place.  As much as I'd love to visit there just to walk around, it's a bit of a shlep.  So, the opportunity to walk amid this glorious urban eden is an enormous boon.  I also say it as a frame of reference for the gratitude I have now, for the life I am able to live and the memories I have of a time long past.

But, did I remember my camera for this milestone occasion?  Nope.  I figured ABC would send me pictures of the kids, which they will. Somehow, though, I failed to remember I would be in a giant GARDEN!!!  Picture me now with a big ol' self-deprecating L on my forehead!

In any case, the Children's Garden, so bodaciously full of vegetation, is located inside a picket fence, about 30 times the size of my little plot at home.  Each specimen has a mound, nearly suitable for a Little League pitcher.  The cabbages are full-size.  (Mine are either bitten up by bugs or just beginning to form the round nuggets of edible material.)  There are more varieties of squash than I could find at the supermarket.  The corn must be exactly 5-foot-five-and three-quarters, just like me.  I wanted to hug them.
(my decimated cabbages, hanging on.  I swear there's a little cabbage head in there.)

One little girl was nearly as excited to see it as I was.  At only nine years old, she clearly knew so much more than did I.  She pointed out the strawberries, which she said are really a type of rose, then rambled on as we meandered to the cherry tree, pointing out all she knew.  It was extensive.

"Where did you learn all this?" I asked.
"We have a garden at home." she said, as though I should probably have assumed.

I know who her mother is, but I think now I should get to know her better.  I could learn a thing or two, I bet.

This morning, I got up with the dogs, let the chickens out and visited my own garden.  I caressed the leaves, wet from the rain we finally had last night.  I looked out across the bare parts of my yard and wondered if my garden will ever look like that of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  A tall order, but a worthy aspiration nonetheless.

And, a day that could have been all about memory, reminded me that we indeed can only live in the present.  A visit to a cherry tree, planted by a child with love for someone lost nearly a decade ago, took me 'round to a garden that reminds me of what I have right at home, right now.  And gives me a little to look forward to as well.

I am thankful for those surprising moments that remind me to live what I have right now.  I am thankful to hold my memories (and to cherish them) but without being held (or held back) by them.

I wish to tend my little plot so it grows into a robust slice of heaven.  And, I wish those who suffer have to have a place of peace, like a garden is for me.

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