For many years my mother kept a beautiful garden filled with tulips and peonies and roses and poppies and plants and the most beautiful snowball tree I have ever seen. When the scent of the lilacs filled the air you knew it was Spring. When the jack in the pulpit broke ground you knew that scores of trilliums wouldn’t be far behind and that a walk through the woods out back would be filled with a carpet of white making you marvel at the artistry and beauty provided by Mother Nature.
This was the biology/botany lesson where you could witness rebirth in the perennials or see the results of the bulbs/seeds that you planted the previous fall and know that you helped the flower to blossom and show off its splendour and radiance of colour.
Of course that would be looking back on the scene through rose-coloured glasses as six kids ran roughshod through the gardens while playing games in the front yard be it badminton, baseball, croquet or Red rover, Red rover. We never really appreciated all the hard work and effort that went into working these gardens and when our mom had a spare moment (and I don’t know how she found one) that is where you could find her.
It was only when I began gardening myself as an adult that I appreciated the pride and satisfaction she must have derived from all that effort.
I’m pretty sure she was totally exasperated with us when we rummaged through a bush looking for a lost bird or ball while she admonished us to stay out of the garden with an ever increasing sharp tone. I can remember the one Spring when my older brother and I planted firecrackers in our neighbour’s tulips and blew them up, just for fun and then having to go over after our mom found out to apologize and pay for the damage out of our allowance. These are the lessons you learned while growing up. I have provided a few examples from the many, many life lessons learned.
1. Don’t chew gum with your mouth open as you look like a cow chewing their cud.
2. Don’t threaten to poke a neighbour child’s eye out with a stick though you wouldn’t have actually done it because it isn’t nice to pick on someone younger than you even though my older brothers beat me up on a regular basis – not that I’m sure I didn’t provoke them on occasion – I was definitely no little angel.
3. Don’t try to burn down your school by lighting the field behind it on fire as it wastes the fire department’s time to come and put it out and your parents will be less than thrilled.
4. Don’t play in the swamp without your rubber boots or you’ll get a soaker. Be careful where you go swimming that you don’t bring home leeches.
5. And don’t taunt the boys calling them sissies unless you can outrun them.
There are plenty more but I digress from the Garden and the refuge it must have provided my mother from the goings on while dealing with her stubborn, willful children with more personalities than Sybil.
She also had pea bushes, rhubarb and grew lettuce and other veggies in the side and back gardens to supplement our grocery bill and reused and recycled long before it became di rigeur. Sometimes I think people forget the simple things in life that can bring joy and happiness. I miss my mom.