Though my father slipped away from me and passed from this world over a decade ago, when I garden, he is with me again. As I lower this old body of mine to kneel on the earth, the years drop away. I am young again; I am my father's child.
As I close my eyes and tilt my face upwards to the sun, I feel the warmth of my father's smile. My hair is tousled by the breeze as the wind whispers the secrets of the earth. I listen closely and I hear the words of my father echo out of the past.
"Emma Mae, tend to your garden and you might become "A True Gardener"."
"A true gardener?" I asked, "Aren't I a gardener already?"
"No ma'am. You garden. That is not a True Gardener by a long shot. Nah, it takes a whole lot more than just putting a plant in the ground to be a True Gardener."
He went on to explain, "A true gardener can look out over the most barren of patches and see an oasis before a single plant is in the ground. A true gardener knows that the right combination of soil and light will make all the plants thrive. A true gardener can recognize the beauty of all plants and see it each one has a place and a purpose in the garden."
He pointed to the copse of black walnuts in the back corner of his garden.
"Look at those black walnut trees. Their roots put out a poison that can be toxic up to 80 feet away. Can't plant an azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel, red pine and apple tree near them because within one to two months they will be harmed or killed. But that doesn't mean you can't have a black walnut, it just means you need to find tolerant plants to go with it and the proper placement for it." (NOTE:Horses react badly to the black walnut, do not plant one near your barn.)
"Emma Mae, don't you see? The lessons learned while working in a garden, well a True Gardener can take and apply them to every situation in life."
"You just look and see the world the way a True Gardener does, and tend to your garden. It will thrive."
I sit and gaze out over Shine. I see only a fertile piece of ground that extends worldwide. There aren't any weeds in this garden. Only the seeds of hope, tolerance and friendship grow wild here.
There is so much room; there is no need to fight over a plot. There isn't a single place that you can't put down roots and grow. You can bring all your favorite flowers, plants and shrubs, there is room for all of them here. See the beauty in the SHINE GARDEN. See how beautiful all the plants are. Be tolerant and create the right conditions and this garden will thrive. Don't pour poison onto the soil or plants and destroy this oasis called SHINE. It is meant for all to enjoy. A true gardener can see that.
I really want to be a True Gardener. For some of you, well I didn't have a tender enough touch to get you to bloom. I know that you will find that True Gardener that you will call friend, sister, mom, brother, sir or ma'am.
Remember SHINE is a public garden. Be tender with all the plants. Watch out that none are stepped on or trampled upon. If a plant is being stepped on, instead of knocking the person down, explain the beauty of the plant, extol it's virtues and sing it's praises.
Because isn't life this simple? It is a huge garden waiting to be filled with all your hopes, dreams and become a place to share with your neighbors. A true gardener knows that.
Maybe we could all try to do a little gardening and make this place a little more beautiful.