Some people are naturally buoyant, but others of us must find ways to elevate our spirits. Writing helps keep my emotions on track, and drawing and painting help me, too.
Sunflower – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum
But gardening and watching nature day by day is probably my best antidote for the blues.
Even during the winter, I watch the birds outside my window, and I write about how winter changes my perspective.
I always love to see spring’s arrival. Now, that I live in the North, I love spring more than I ever did before.
And I grow a large variety of irises, and iris time always excites me. My grandmother had a huge iris bed, and my irises keep my grandmother alive.
I also grow a large variety of clematis, but by the time that the clematis are blooming, my garden is shrieking with color.
Early this spring, I bought a large, blooming tropical milkweed plant, and my current reward is that I am watching all of my baby caterpillars munching on the leaves.
Last fall, my header had the above squirrel on it, and I wrote a piece that I titled Winter Comes Too Soon. Moments ago, I was walking around my weed-grown garden, and I was thinking that in only a few weeks, I’ll be writing again about how winter has begun to settle across my lawn. When you read my essay Winter Comes Too Soon, you will probably see that I am not only talking about how another summer is ending, but I am also talking about how the seasons of my life have shifted, too.
I am 67-years-old, and I am no longer the pastel primrose that I once was. I feel more like a field of goldenrod now, and as I begin to look square into the eyes of the latter part of my own autumn, I have begun to notice that cobwebs have been spun from one side of myself to the other, and they have begun to dangle and drop.
Indeed, Winter Comes Too Soon. The surprising thing is that aging has a patina to it, and by the grace of God, as I age, I have begun to discover that there are good things about getting older. I know that I am more mellow than I once was. I have learned to view friendships differently than I ever viewed them before. I have given up a great deal of my tendencies toward perfectionism, and I am finding the eyes to see the beauty of the small, inexpensive things that I had never seen.
Last year, I wrote several hours each day, and that left me no extra time for doing my art and gardening.
The year before, I had gorgeous annuals and perennials blooming in my garden.
But last year, I had fields of poke plants, and one massive wildflower grew that I had never seen in my life. That plant grew to be abut 8′ tall and had large, feathery leaves and woody stalks. Little balls hung from the stalks, and each little ball was topped by what looked like a vintage Chinaman’s cap. Ultimately, little yellow flowers popped out from the tops of the balls. It was an amazing thing to watch. That tall weed or wildflower was a few feet from my back door, and every time that I went outside, I saw it. It was almost as though God chose to give me a special gift to replace the garden that I had allowed to slip away.
During the summer of 2015, my garden was controlled and my waterfall was beautiful and clear. Last year, I never started the pumps for my waterfall, and my pond was brackish and dark. I was disappointed that without my care and nudging, many of my perennials elected not to show last year. But because I allowed some of the wilder things in my garden to have a chance to grow, I saw a different kind of beauty. It was a mellower kind of beauty that had a natural patina.
“A weed is but an unloved flower.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Several times before, I have written that I question the line that is drawn between weeds and flowers. By many standards, I am probably a weed, but I enjoy the comfort and the freedom of growing the way that I seem to want to grow.
“Come into my garden,” said the black-eyed Susan to the hybrid tea.
©Jacki Kellum September 5, 2017