I gathered my girls in the morning, just after Morning Prayer. The day had dawned a brilliant, beautiful sunshiny blue. This is the day the Lord has made!
My mood did not match the day, nor did it reflect our stated mission. I was decidedly melancholy. And I was decidedly determined to shake the sadness. I considered my options. I could try to figure out why I was feeling the way I was or I could just determinedly push the feelings out of the way. I chose the latter, though I knew full well that strategy hadn't always worked in the past. The former, quite honestly, just seemed like too much work.
This was a much anticipated traditional trip to the nursery near our home. As I loaded four girls into the van, I remembered the first time I ever visited the nursery. Mary Beth was a baby. It was three boys who tagged along with us. I was so thrilled to be in a new house with room enough for a proper garden. I learned quickly that the farmers at this renowned nursery took their plants very seriously. Their gruffness caught me by surprise and I wondered if perhaps I should not have brought children. Now, thirteen years later, I wonder the same thing. Actually, I have wondered that every year, as the ownership has transferred from Tom deBaggio to his son, Francesco. But now, I have come to expect his manner and not to take it personally. I even giggle a little at the predictability. When, I wonder, will the words of other people roll so easily off my back. Ever?
When I returned home after my first outing here all those many years ago, I wrote about it for Faith and Family. Only it wasn't called Faith and Family back then and it wasn't in color. It wasn't even a magazine, but a newspaper, all in black and white. Come to think of it, I don't even think I filed the story via email...
What a long way we've come.
I push thoughts of the book from my mind and focus on the task, the joys, at hand. I read tomato descriptions with Mary Beth and let Karoline rub and smell every variety of basil (watching carefully for Mr. de Baggio out of the corner of my eye).
I say Yes when the girls ask to buy rose-scented soap, even though we have a generous stash of lovely soap at home. I carry Sarah from the back porch to the greenhouse to the pond to the store, pointing to this plant and that, trying not to notice that it is growing increasingly hot and she is growing increasingly heavy.
At the checkout, Francesco de Baggio offers his annual stern warning. "I don't want my peppers to see nights below 55 degrees, nor should the basil. And tomatoes don't go in before you are sure it won't go lower than 45." I solemnly assure him that I wouldn't dare plant until the seedlings are properly hardened off, all the while wondering if I can get these plants in before the weekend. He reads my mind." It's going to be in the 40s Saturday and Sunday night." I consider taking my chances. Nah. The forbidding in his foreboding gives me pause.
These are his precious plants. He spends the whole year preparing them, tending them, researching how to make them better, loving them into existence. How hard it must be for him to send those plants out into the world! He doesn't know me at all. Will I appreciate the toil he put into bringing them to me. Will I love them? Will they bear fruit under my care?
Suddenly, try as might, I cannot forget the books. There they go, out into the world. Every long bedrest afternoon, spent surrounded by books of saints' quotations. Every early morning, up before the rest of the world, crafting prayers and praying for inspiration. Every warm friendly conversation, headset in place, reaching across geography to write with a friend in New Hampshire. Every revision of manuscripts. Every consideration of format and layout and font. Out into the world
Seeds of my heart, tended in my own greenhouse, cultivated with care. Out into the world.
I can only hope and pray that they blossom brilliantly.
Not mine any more.
They are yours.