The Second Time This Year
I spent quite a bit of time outside today working in the yard. First I blew leaves off the back lawn this morning. As I look out the window down onto the yard, I can see no difference from what I saw earlier in the day. But that's only because it's fall; accordingly, the leaves have not stopped falling all day. The seeds of new grass sown last week had been protected from hungry birds long enough to take root and begin to push new blades out of the well-watered earth. As I maneuvered the noisy, heavy leaf blower, I smiled at the thousands of newly uncovered fragile, tiny sprouts. "Welcome to sunny south Charlotte," is what I should have said. The lawn is in its growth phase for the second time this year.
After a short session of homeschooling, I donned my yard clogs again, my husband's work gloves, and began trimming the bushes in front of the house. Don't ask me what their names are, but the short ones with the red and green leaves needed to be relieved of their wild mohawk of new growth. The prickly ones that grabbed at my red sweatpants as I wedged my way between them and the brick walls of our home had nearly consumed some of the red and green ones. I cut my way back towards the house and then worked my way free with my powerful wand of weed whacking wonder. The low green ones that send out long stems of light purple flowers have already moved beyond their second flowering of the year and were in need of cutting back. Someday I will learn the names of those plants; these descriptions are crude and rudimentary.
A couple of hours ago as I walked Maya in the backyard, I noticed how unruly the gardenia bushes have become. I headed towards the garage to grab the clippers when I noticed that they too are about to burst into bloom for a second time this year. Some of the buds are already tipped with fragrant white leaves. Others are only days away from opening their perfumed souls to the sky. I cannot wait for their scent to fill our yard and my heart to overflowing. What a cheery perfume they will release to the world.
This second bloom of the year thing is new to me. Back in Connecticut there was no second round of growth for the bushes and trees in our yard. What a gift this is to receive each autumn. Through no fault or work of our own, it is a gift of the earth, a gift of grace that we get to enjoy rebirth so late in the year. Thanks be to the Great Creator.
Coincidentally, I am feeling a second wave in my life. My husband and I have resolved to rekindle our relationship in this, the second half of our lives. Why not spread some fertilizer over our depleted marriage? Watching our fathers die between 1999 and 2001, caring for our mothers ever since, raising our children, making a major move three years ago from Connecticut to North Carolina - all this has taken its toll on what used to be a vital and growing love affair. It's time, we have decided, to prune back some of the weeds that have choked us both, dig up the rocks that have clogged the soil of our minds and souls, aerate the hard ground that has formed between us, and sow the seeds of grace, patience, forgiveness for wrongs done, and plant bulbs of laughter, romance, and peace so that the next 14 years of marriage will be even better than the first fourteen. Just tonight we toasted to our future over a quiet candlelit dinner for two.
For me personally, as I approach my 40th birthday, I realize that I am in the best shape of my life, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I have spent countless hours in the past five years walking, playing tennis, doing tae bo, reading, writing, reflecting, praying, and asking for greater understanding and depth of insight into myself. Mercifully, my prayers have been answered and my hard work has paid off. Fortunately, I have decided to not stop here. I am feeling a new yearning to write, to teach, and to create art. I am determined to deepen friendships, to release old grudges and resentments, and welcome all that God has in store for me in the next four decades of life.
As I walked past the gardenias heading for the clippers in the garage earlier this evening, I was stopped in my tracks when I saw all those new and beautiful flower buds. I remembered the intoxicating aroma that floated across the deck and into the kitchen windows back in the spring. I knew that I couldn't nip that bud just yet. And I was challenged to take inventory of my life. What areas of my life are beginning to bud for a second time? Why not hold off on the pruning of difficult or non-responsive friends and family members I might otherwise be tempted to cut off and throw away? Why not reach out one more time in the hopes of stimulating growth for the second time this year?
I look forward to bouquets of gardenias on the kitchen counter in the days to come as well as new blossoms of old friendships, a mature marriage, and a strong soul of my own in the years and decades to come.