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My Spring Benediction
By Marlene Depler
It was almost the end of May, and it hadn't happened yet—that is my annual ritual of planting the flowerpots. My full schedule combined with a trip out of town prevented me from accomplishing this most important task as early as usual. I felt edgy and rather undone over the situation.
While there isn’t any law requiring flowerpots, and no one standing over me insisting that I plant them, I still don’t consider it optional. Something in me compels me to complete this yearly ceremony of inserting flowers into the rich soil of each of my white pots. So, just as May was about to slip away, I made a trip to the garden center for the necessary flowers.
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I awake with great anticipation. This was the day—the day of flower planting. I eat quickly, grab my trowel and watering can, and head out the back door. On the patio, the pots were all lined up in a row expectantly waiting to be filled with living color.
Four of the pots are identical in size, shape, and color. Their artistic shape and proportion is that of a classic Greek urn. Never mind that they are made of plastic! The fifth pot is of white ceramic.
I gather all my flowers near and push a white wrought iron chair up next to the row of pots. I sit down, take a deep breathe of the fresh morning air, and let a hand full of potting soil sift through my fingers. Ah, yes! This is why I must plant!
Every year I choose almost the same flowers in the exact same colors. (I would prefer to think that this is because I am a woman who knows what I like, not that I am in a rut!) The geraniums MUST be pink, and the petunias, shades of purple and pink. To that, I add yellow marigolds, blue lobelia, white sweet alyssum, and pink and white impatiens. For texture and greenery, there must be spike and asparagus fern.
Since the spike is the tallest, it is planted first. Next comes the asparagus fern, followed by the pink geraniums. All the other flowers fill in around the edge. I carefully pull each small plant from its container, grasping the base of the plant with my left hand and loosening the pot with my right. The plants slide out one by one, and I gently tuck their fragile roots into the dark soil.
The roots of the marigolds are tightly bound in the tiny pots. They definitely need more space to grow. It occurs to me that it is the same with the human species, including me. And my mind wonders down a mental trail:
I’m often comfortable in a familiar pot, but if I stay in the same pot too long,
it thwarts my growth. I think of the times that I’ve been transplanted both by
force and by choice throughout life's transitions. Yes, I must be willing to be
transplanted if I want my roots to continue to flourish and grow. Why do I so
Repetitiously, I plant one pot after the next, stacking empty containers as I go. My mind freely enjoys the beautiful morning. The sun warms my skin, while a gentle breeze waltzes with the leaves of the lilacs and the variegated, red-twigged dogwood. The lilacs hang heavy like full clusters of grapes on the vine ready for harvest, and their sweet scent fills the air. Large puffs of white cotton dot the blue sky, occasionally and ever so briefly obscuring the sun.
A redheaded finch plays in the birdbath, while a squirrel scampers across the yard. A lawn mower hums, and ducks on the pond quack as ducklings are given swimming lessons. A random choir of birds chirps in cacophony rather than harmony, and the sound of a nearby hammer adds the percussion.
There, I'm finished. I fill the watering can and give the plants a drink. I admire my handiwork. I have a sense of how God must have felt on a much grander scale as he admired his creation. I place the pots in their assigned locations, pull a handful of weeds, and snip off the heads of a few faded tulips.
Unfortunately, there’s still much to do—weeds in the rose garden and a vegetable and herb garden to finish planting. All summer I will wage war with weeds, those uninvited guests—or perhaps I should call them intruders. Ahhhhh! But for the moment, none of that matters. The flowerpots are planted, and I smile with contentment.
Flowerpots are my spring benediction—my renewed affirmation of hope and belief in life and the growth process. Life will go on, and next year I will once again fill my flowerpots with pink geraniums.
(c) 1999 Marlene Depler