Exploring North Haven, we came upon a beautiful garden in the village. Its touching beauty was in its wild abandon but also in the souvenirs that remained of the gardener who had once tended it.
Nature reasserts itself.
Only the hardiest self-seeding plants remained to whisper about the gardener's old dream of the place. The lupine and columbine and forget-me-nots competed with whimsy against the whip-strong sprouts of maple that had sprung up around the yard. The flowers shouldered up through the grass.
I thought of my grandmother's garden gone to clover. I thought of my own lost garden beds under the pines at the lakeside cottage Birch and I coaxed into being but relinquished finally for the sunshine and potential of four green acres. Do my flowers still eke out an existence in that warm spot where the sun made it through the treetops? Does anybody bring them compost, pull the weeds, water them through dry spells? If not, they may exist only in my memory.
Gardening is merely participating in nature. I have to learn this again and again. I was reminded of it when we came home from North Haven. It had rained and rained here while we were away; the slugs had eaten and eaten. The cabbage looked like lace. The beans had been lopped off as they sprouted. The pumpkins were half what they should have been.
Nature reasserts itself.
Long winters teach me this, and groundhogs do too. Cold seasons or wet or dry, these all have their reminders about what is in control and who is not. Last year it was a hailstorm that battered a bounty of tiny green tomatoes to the ground. This year it is the cold spring that won't quit. My tomato plants look defensive. They know this has not been their season so far, maybe won't be. But all this confronts me with the greater truth I learn by gardening: Embrace it. Be grateful that nature has its own ways. Protect it, protect it, protect it. All I can do -- the starting of seeds, the turning of compost, the spritzing of fish emulsion -- all this is nothing to what nature can do. And that is the glory of nature truly: Without us, seeds still sprout, and vines climb, and it all goes on and on. May it ever.
There is peace in the garden that the island gardener left behind. There are reminders that she got down on her hands and knees and planted seeds and watched them grow and took pleasure in them. Forget-me-nots weave through the weeds. Perhaps that's where they got their name. Those blue flowers are the tiniest little spark of a gardener's imagination, still alive in the wild of it all.