Wisdom from the Garden

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By Judi Siegal

What a winter season we have had this year in our part of Florida! Sweaters have been de rigueur and scarves a necessary accessory. I actually had to wear my Florida “winter coat” more than twice and many a day I toyed with the idea of wearing — you should pardon the expression — gloves.

This all, of course, leads me to thinking about spring. I know the warmer season is not far off just by looking at my garden and the lessons it teaches me.

Right now, nothing seems to be alive. The predominant color is brown with hardly a green sprout in sight.

Aren’t there times in our lives when everything seems to be brown, when everything seems dull, dry and lifeless?

Here my little cultivated patch is telling me: “Hang in there! Soon I will turn green. You will see. All will be well.”

That is the first lesson my garden has taught me: Stay the course. It may be that it looks like there is no hope, but things will change. Green will sprout and hope will return.

Lesson number two is with appearances.

I have received plants that looked so ugly I almost didn’t want to plant them. They were withered and looked more dead than alive.

To my surprise, with a little bit of water, sun and care, they thrived, turning out beautiful blossoms.

What I learned here is that appearances are deceiving and that everybody needs a second chance.

You can’t and shouldn’t judge by what you see on the surface. It is beauty within that matters and provides us with so much joy.

My third garden lesson has to do with tenacity.

Too often we give up when the going gets hard.

I have seen plants close up that seem to die, only to hold on until more water is provided to revive them. We, too, need to “rough it out” until we can be rescued. I believe with God’s help this happens, though our rescuer may surprise us.

How many times have we been in trouble and, in the nick of time, somebody, quite unexpected, has helped us out?

That’s what my plants tell me when they conserve energy by conserving water.

We need to focus our strengths in order to reach our goals and emerge from our crisis situation.

Another garden lesson is patience.

Seeds take time to grow. Shrubs take months to bloom. Life is not instant. Like raising a child, love, patience and care help a plant to bloom and develop. We must learn that good things take time and then we will see results.

Sometimes my garden teaches me things I’d rather not know.

There have been lovely flowers that have bloomed in my garden for several seasons, only to die off after a specific amount of time.

Like life, there is a time and place for everything and like all life, there is an ending. We have to learn to let go, move on and plant more seeds to encourage new life.

We also have to be on the lookout for wickedness and evil and stop these forces from doing damage.

In the garden, they are weeds; in life, they are various bad traits we humans possess such as selfishness, hatred, callousness and pride.

The wisdom any garden can teach is there for all to appreciate.

Step back and admire how God has provided for each species: growing cycle, climate, light, water and soil conditions.

Marvel at the delicate balance of nature like the big, furry woodland spider I chased out of my garden because I was “afraid” of it, only to learn later it was eating the ants off my hibiscus bush.

Stop and smell the roses – or any other blooms that may be present.

Grab your sunhat, watering can and gloves.

There is no time like the present.

Judi Siegal is a retired teacher and Jewish educator. She lives in Sun Valley with her husband, Phil, and they enjoy RVing together.