If I believed in such things I would have done a spirited rain dance this summer and early fall to implore the skies to deliver the right clouds to make it rain for longer than the brief five minutes at a time that we experienced this summer.
Farmers and gardeners, and all humans for that matter, must adapt their lives to the seasons. Feast or famine. Drought or flood.
By the time we make it to October in East Tennessee, we have slogged through a stew of vaporous humidity, high temperatures, and day after day, week after week, and month after month of little-to-no rain. Yet we have plants, trees, shrubs, and grasslands that need rain. And, yes, people need rain too.
Water is what makes life on our planet possible. Our bodies are around 60 percent water, and even our bones contain 31 percent. No wonder the sounds of water falling over rocks, water lapping on the sides of boats, and water trickling through a creek are irresistible and balms to our souls.
Without water, our gardens would be deserts. And so would we.
Globally most of us have been metaphorically slogging through a desert created by the fear, uncertainty, and disruption of Covid, the disease of unease caused by a coronavirus that has killed at least 4.5 million people around the world, and around 700,000 Americans.
It is not the virus alone that causes us to be bleed our discontent. We Americans cannot agree on how to respond to the virus, despite the fact that nearly every American knows someone who has died. Some of us are vaccinated, others not. Only 45 percent are currently vaccinated in my home state of Tennessee. Not caused by availability problems, mind you, but mostly for political reasons and misinformation. Yes, while some countries suffer without access to vaccines, too many people in rich countries such as ours squander the benefits of a lifesaving vaccine by refusing to do their public-health duty to ensure we reach something close to herd immunity so the babies, children, and immunocompromised people can be safe.
In our family, we have a new baby who is due to join us in February next year. He knows nothing about drought, disease, floods, hurricanes, hatred, vaccines, masks, wars, guns, and politics. I feel sorry for this little man who hardly has a chance. We have the memories of better times. But for him there may be no butterflies to inspire him with their delicate, ethereal beauty. For him no country that hangs together when things are tough. And just like his older brother and sister, he will never know my Daddy. Oh, what a loss! He will not know the force of nature and passion that was Daddy–the man who was the matchmaker who believed his parents should be together before anyone else thought so. And yes, this little boy will be the youngest and will compete with his older siblings for life’s goodies. In the short term, his siblings will find him to be the tiny, crying usurper of his parents and grandparents’ time, attention, and affection.
Eventually his siblings will know him in a different way. Those of us who are old enough to know the score will welcome him straightaway and love him because we know how precious new life is. And we will welcome him with wonder and delight, awestruck at his unique qualities and nature. We will love him immediately, and help him get the feel for how it is to live in the 22nd Century. We his adult family members will shield him, but we will also help teach him how to–with every new step–make his own way in the world.
Frank Cabot was an American visionary who created a gloriously idiosyncratic private garden called Les Quatre Vents at his home in the Quebec province of Canada. My husband Kurt and I watched the documentary, called “The Gardener”, that tells the story of his life and his way of thinking about gardens. To him, gardens are life. He believed fervently that people can have a personal relationship with each garden they visit. Frank Cabot (1925-2011) was a gentleman, a gentle man, and he dedicated his life to making gardens, and saving endangered private gardens. In the documentary, he shared his belief that:
Everybody has a garden within them, and it’s a way of expressing one’s creativity.Francis “Frank” Cabot, Self-taught American horticulturalist and saver of gardens
Cabot created beauty and was never happier than when he thought that a person was touched spiritually when they visited his garden. May we encourage our new little man–this tiny little gardener entrusted to his parents and his family–to explore the beauty and awe and spiritual nature of the natural world. May he find his way, may he find his passion, may he find his bliss, may his spirit soar.
~ Anna – 9/30/2021