I just found an old treasure....my little brown garden notebook. It is a diary of sorts which features illustrations and quotes from Frances Hodgson Burnett's Secret Garden. Throughout the 90s we lived in a wonderful Queen Anne Victorian house. We renovated it and turned a gravel parking lot into a grassy yard surrounded by a blooming garden of trees, bushes and flowers for the kids to play in. As we transformed the outdoors I made notes in my little book about what we planted and tips for helping the plants thrive. I drew sketches of the beds. There are notations about which family member picked a certain plant and a summary of what happened during the growing season each year.
At the time I kept this notebook I had a million details to keep track of in our daily life. The kids were little and involved in a variety of things. There was a revolving door for construction contractors on the house. I was working in the social work field. My brain was filled to overflowing. So, I would often employ some type of aid to help me keep track of it all and that is where the little brown book came in.
A decade later we are in a different house. I no longer need the tip for encouraging the Speedwell Veronica. But I discovered that my notes serve a whole new and probably better purpose. As I read about bulbs that were frozen out I remember the harsh winter that began with an October ice storm that layered so much crystal clear ice on the trees that the sugar maple sapling we had placed in the back yard was literally bent in two, the tip of the tree touching the ground. I remember getting home from work that evening and racing inside the house with three little ones in tow. We built a fire and drank hot chocolate as we listened to the cracking of branches outside. We strained our ears listening for the sound of their Daddy's car in the drive as well and were all relieved when he walked through the back door. The night was equal parts thrilling, scary and wonderful as we huddled together in the firelight.
The bulbs didn't make it that year. But that little maple did and taught a useful life lesson as well. Because it had not grown rigid it was able to bend; when the thaw came that little tree popped right back up. It sustained no longterm damage. If the tree could bend and not break, maybe I could too! Flexibility- the key to making it through the day to day especially when relationships cool and anger and hurt settle in. Let me remain flexible with those I love so that when the thaw comes I too can pop right back with no longterm damage.
Originally written Spring 2011