Tag Archives: orderliness

I slake my thirst with gardens.

Way back in October, I think, was the last time a certain one of my favorite plant nurseries was open — until Saturday, when I drove over for the reopening. The retail aspect is a small part of a larger sustainable agriculture/ecological/educational project, and is only open on weekends in the warmer months. Over the years I’ve bought lots of annual vegetables there, but lately they focus on perennial edibles and and medicinal plants.

It’s a beautiful drive, out into the more rural areas of my county. I remembered to wear my sun hat to keep my scalp from burning, but when I got into the nursery area itself there was netting all over above, which probably made it unnecessary. Passionflowers bloomed like stars up there.

For an hour I got a huge rush of excitement and energy, as I saw more and more species of perennial salvias and echinacea species that I could take home and add to my pollinator garden. Echinacea Purpurea, Pallida, and Paradoxa. Salvia hians (Kashmir Sage), Salvia forsskaolii, Clary Sage and Dune Sage. The forsskaolii, or Indigo Woodland Sage, I used to have in my “old” garden, but it didn’t survive the transition. None of the new plants is in bloom yet so I’ll show them later after they are revealed in their fullness.

There was one plant that I had no desire to bring home for my garden, though they say it is grown worldwide as an ornamental. That is the Porcupine Tomato:

Solanum pyracanthos

This flowering tree grows near the entrance/checkout. Does anyone know what it is?

In my own garden, June seems to have arrived early, and so suddenly… I guess that’s because I’ve been sitting around moping and confused; I know I am way behind in planting the second planter box. But the rest of the garden just went on doing its thing, and is ready to comfort me now that I desperately need it. When there is a lull in the strange high winds we’ve been having, I can sit out there and silently bake, in the company of other creations and creatures. For a few moments at a time I revel in just being.

The showy milkweed is over five feet high already, and in the back yard it’s a favorite of the bees, along with the lavender and the echium. Oh, speaking of echium, I saw my type at the nursery; I must have bought it there several years ago. It is not the Pride of Madeira-echium candicans that is more typical here. As recently as last week, though, I thought it was just an oddly growing form of it. If it were Pride of Madeira it would have blocked the path by now; good thing it’s more vertical!

See the bee on the left, against the sky?
Pretending to be real trees.
In a spring storm two branches broke off.
Back before spring had fully sprung.

At the nursery my kind was called Tower of Jewels, and just now I found a helpful site that explains all the different forms. Mine is also called Tree Echium, echium pininana. I never noticed before how the echium flowers resemble borage and my newer plant, bugloss. Well, they are all in the borage family.

echium Tower of Jewels
bugloss

I took a slow-motion video of the bees out front on the germander (teucrium). In real time they seem very excited, almost frantic, in their buzzing from flower to flower, but when I watched the video it showed their true selves as purring bee-copters taking all the time in the world, that is, the whole day and their whole short lives, to do their work.

I’m needing to take long breaks from talking this week, mostly my own, which seems like more and more idle talk. No one talks in my garden. Even the tropical birds have been moved to their new home far enough away that I can’t hear them; now I can hear the native singers’ quieter tunes and gentle chirps.

I think I was looking for a quote on a different topic this morning when I ran across this beloved one (a beloved quote? really? Yes.) from G.K. Chesterton:

Women have a thirst for order and beauty as for something physical;
there is a strange female power of hating ugliness and waste
as good men can only hate sin and bad men virtue.

Forget for a moment the reductionist nature of these ideas — most short quotes, in order to be pithy, have to focus on one or two ideas and lay aside the complexities of the subject. Just think about what we are thirsty for… (You men also thirst, naturally.) I realized just this morning — by bathing in the the sunshine and the lavender scent, the breeze and the humming — and this afternoon, by speaking briefly about it with a wise person, that the very concrete realness, the materiality of my garden satisfies something. Maybe my garden has to do double-duty right now because of the recent lack of human touching.

How it helps me pray… I don’t need to figure out that mystery. I just want to enter in.

On Passover afternoon, ten days ago now, we had Kneeling Vespers of Pentecost. Almost everyone took part at home, but I live close to the church and I drove over in hopes that there would be few enough of us that I could participate indoors. My hope was realized! I’m sharing this picture because of the golden sunshine. May God fill us with His light!

The beginning of a true newness

I am somewhat apologetically writing already another post on The Hidden Art of Homemaking, because it is the philosophy and theology, the heavenly underpinnings perhaps, that inspire me and give me the energy to carry out the practical details. From looking at the chapter titles it seems that this introductory chapter might be the one about which I have the most musings.

As to the oddness of me taking my inspiration from yet another man, when it is we women who traditionally do the homemaking and who are discussing a woman‘s book, I will just say that, Christ who enables us also was a man, and the Life of The Holy Trinity is something greater than our gender roles. The reality of the Holy Spirit operating in the world through us is our means of living out our humanity. Homemaking is one of the many facets of our calling and our life in God, and this particular pastor always encourages me in the fact of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The passages from Metropolitan Anthony are from a talk on Genesis given in June, 1986, from the book Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh: Essential Writings by Gillian Crow.

Creativeness, however, is something more complex than the ability to call out new forms, to shape one’s surroundings or even to determine to a certain extent…our destiny. It begins with the ability to change — to change intentionally. Creativeness begins with the ability a being has…to become what he is not yet, to start at the point at which he was created and then grow into a fullness that he did not possess before: from image to likeness, if you will — having begun to be, as it were, a reflection, to become the reality itself; having begun to be in the image of the invisible Creator, to become the image of God incarnate.

…And this process is a creative process. It is not an organic one; it is not something that must develop inevitably; it is something that we must choose and that we must achieve with the grace of God.

Amy mentioned the possibility that we might, contrary to our calling, create ugly or bad things, and even sometimes express not craftsmanship but craftiness. Other and various sinful impulses can also rob us of our creative strength. On the other hand, many times just creating something can give us a boost in the right direction. For example, I am learning not to be discouraged by the disorder of my messy house. Instead I can take joy from the chance to create order and space to replace — or at least reduce! — the chaos that so easily develops. But creating order out of chaos is huge. That seems like a good description of one aspect of the creative work God is always doing in our lives.

Met. Anthony says that the creative work he is primarily talking about is not the art and music and literature that we tend to think of right away,

…both of heart and intelligence, of skill and of hand, but is much more essential and also much more important because all the rest can flow from this basic source of creativeness but cannot derive from anything else.

So that here we are confronted with man, whom God has called and loved into existence, endowed with His image, launched into life, and when on the seventh day the Lord rested from his works, the seventh day will be seen as all the span of time that extends from the last act of creation on the part of God to the last day, the eighth day, the coming of the Lord, when all things will be fulfilled, all things will come to an end, reach their goal, and blossom out in glory. It is within this seventh day, which is the whole span of history, that the creativeness of man is to find its scope and its place.

And this is a wonderful call to us because each of us can be a creator within his own realm, within his mind and his soul, by making them pure and transparent to God, within his actions and life, and become what Christ said we are called to be: a light to the world, a light that dispels darkness, a light that, as in the beginning of creation is the beginning of a new day — that is, the beginning of a true newness and a new unfolding of the potentialities that are within us and around us.

(Cindy was hosting a discussion of Edith Schaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking, and this post was written as a contribution.)

Like tidied toy shelves.

When Pearl was a toddler, all her toys fit on two shelves held up by cinder blocks. Most every day, with sun streaming in through big windows of the old Victorian where we lived at the time, she would absorb herself in exploring all her belongings and scatter them around in the process.

Later in the day, or the next morning, she’d show no interest in the toys that had been removed from the organized rows. She would wander aimlessly, unhappy and bored. But as soon as I tidied up the collection of blocks and dolls and plastic pull-toys, they were fascinating again and good for another long spell of play.

My own toy shelves hadn’t been tidied in at least 20 years until last summer when I tackled the chaos. I’m speaking of the boxes and baskets that held bolts and scraps of fabric, scissors and embroidery thread and patterns. Binder paper on which I’d written the body measurements of my granddaughters’ dolls, and the design for a copy of Bird’s tattered apron. Inherited notions, thimbles & thimble keeper.

Because I was known to like to sew, people thought of me when a grandmother or aunt died and left a button box or collections of needles and zippers, and I welcomed the gifts with open arms. You would think it was I and not my parents who grew up in The Depression; I even followed the example of my foremothers and snipped the buttons off before tossing out any raggedy shirt.

My grandmother Grace’s button box at least did keep all the buttons in one place. I still can’t bring myself to throw out the cards of odd old buttons in the bottom of it, and every year or two I pore over the loose ones in the top tray and imagine what I could stitch them on to.

You can see the closed button box on the floor.

All my wealth of possibilities grew without much notice because for a long time I couldn’t decide which spot or room would be my sewing area, and sometimes I’d let a year or more go by without even opening my sewing machine. But once everything had been deposited in one room, I saw that it was a burdensome barnful.

The chosen spot is a bedroom where I can have my sewing machine near the door and while I sit at it I can face outward toward the rest of the house; I didn’t want to lose touch with what might be going on downstairs. I had tried out the great room that is far removed from everything and often too cold, and I had also tried another bedroom that was too cramped, even though it was prettier.

Once I had invested in some storage racks and containers, and put things into their places, I could jump at the chance to sew doll clothes last year, knowing that my tools and materials were where I could find them. In the process of organizing, I found some interesting antique notions. And one of the doll clothes hangers that I had made and completely forgotten about.

Now that all my pins are in one box, all the spare buttons from purchased garments are in another, and there are no boxes of Hodgepodge anymore, my needlecrafting spirits have been lifted and I feel like playing again.