This I Believe

Judie - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on February 15, 2007
Age Group: 65+

I believe in gardening…

As a middle school teacher for close to thirty years, my main joy and satisfaction came from watching young people mature intellectually and physically. Now that I am retired I watch my whole yard mature and complete an entire life cycle each year. What satisfaction there is in knowing that sometime in late January the paperwhites will bloom, the peach tree will blossom and gradually the flowers, shrubs and trees will come awake to begin their annual struggle with the vicissitudes of the South Texas climate. What excpectations one has as the tomatoes and peppers are planted about March 15th with the often vain hope that it will not sizzle too hot for the fruit to set. But chiefly there is the feeling of accomplishment when all goes well of “look what I did” when my garden gows in tones of pink and blue. It is like painting a masterpiece with little artistic talent. All one needs is imagination, hard work and one of the Saturday garden shows to answer the questions about the failures.

One benefit of gardening is that most avid gardeners belong to a club of one kind or another – The Rose Society, Master Gardeners, or Gardneing Volunteers of South

Texas . Almost instantly I discovered I had a whole bushel basket filled with friends. Gardeners tend to be friendly, nice people. They also are continually seeking knowledge, attending classes, reading specialized books and magazines, memorizing Latin names. They also early on discover that there are alway two ways to answere every horticultural question. Once I spent twenty minutes in the parking lot of the Japanese Tea Garden discussin “to till or not to till.” This group of new friends lured me into volunteering, something enjoyed by many Seniors who desire to give something back to the community. All those hours at The City Nursery, Japanese Tea Garden and the Extension service have produced more friends, mor knowledge and more enjoyment.

Antoher advantage of gardening is the creatures to be enjoyed in one’s backyard. The greedy squirrels, the many birds (I have a list of 23 species I have seen in my own 50 x100 urban lot). One day in February the ligustrum tree in the neighboring yard fruited out with bunches of purple berries. Almost instantaneously my yard was filled with a flock of very gregarious cedar waxwings -a beautiful black and yellow bird with a drop of red “wax” on its wing, For 24 hours they delighted us by darting under the pond spray, filling up the bird bath with 14 fluttery creatures, and stripping the tree of every berry. They made a mess on the deck and chairs by defecating everywhere, but it only needed 45 minutes to hose it all away the next day. And I had had a wonderful, unique experience.

Finally, as I look out my kitchen window I realize that annual cycle has begun and there is much to do. But as I spread the compost and clean the pond there will be time to see nature’s orderly peaceful pattern which contrasts ato the chaos found in the world beyond my own backyard.