Gardens | Walk With Ken Boyle – May 16, 2021

It’s gardening time in our house, rather outside our home. Dale is ready to beautify our home with all kinds of flowers. When I suggested she cut back on the size of our gardens, she was not about to listen. “No,” she said, “I love my gardens.”

Dale is correct. She dearly loves flowers, picking berries,making jam, and growing vegetables that are fresh from the garden. And she loves PUMPKINS, and cornstalks for decorating in autumn. Once I thought I would enjoy gardening – I found out after planting a small orchard and forever weeding what gardens I had planted that I do not like to garden. I will enjoy what Dale grows, but I will try to disappear when a garden problem, like rabbits or woodchucks arises. 

Now, do not misunderstand me. I too love beautiful flowers and stately trees and a tomato just picked from the garden. I, too,see the beauty of Springtime, but I also feel the miserable bites from the bugs and the callouses on my hands and the dirt beneath my fingernails. No, I am the once boy that my mother claimed hated to get dirty and wished to have her clean the dirt spots from my clothes. Part of that story could not be true for there was a picture of me gardening when I was a young boy, maybe four years old. In that picture, I was holding a pitchfork and shovel that towered over me. I suppose that is not really gardening. But I did really garden when I was in seminary. 

My younger brother, Joe, and I planted several acres of potatoes on the farm. We planted them, weeded them, and then sprayed them for the miserable potato bugs had decided that our potato field was a good restaurant. The middle of the garden was too wet, and the seed potato rotted out. Our crop of potatoes proved to be a disaster. We did not earn a profit, and we sold the best potatoes and ate the tiny potatoes left over all during the winter. For the rest of my life, I will work in my woodshop which I so enjoy. Also, I plan on enjoying the beauty of thegardens which I do not have to plant, weed, and care for. 

Most of my family understands Dale’s love of gardening. My sister Irene adores the plants around her home and takes great pride in them. My nephew Clifton owns and manages alandscape company. Much of his work is done in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. His love of gardening came from his grandfather, my father. Their homes were just a field across from each other. When you visited my dad in spring and summer, you had to walk his gardens at his home. Many of his perennials were offshoots from his mother’s garden at the farm in Barrington, New Hampshire. In my dad’s day, flowers and vegetable seeds were often passed down from generation to generation. Offshoots from a magnificent flowering crabapple tree can be found in many of the gardens of my dad’s family. My sister Irene has one of those trees gracing her home in Hudson. It is a very large tree now.

My Aunt Miriam had a wonderful strawberry patch at the farm, and you would hear my father’s family often speak of the wonderful strawberries that came from her garden. My uncle. Warren had a garden that would supply most of his food through the year. He had a freezer, and in the Fall, it would be chuck fullof the food he had harvested. He loved soldier beans for a Saturday night, and when he harvested them, he dried them on a canvas.  I borrowed that once, and he needed it back. Shamefully, I did not appreciate what that canvas meant to him, and returned it to him too late. All his life, he was a religious and frugal man. He was happy with little and dearly loved all his family, including me. At the farm when I was a student in college, he would sit by me at the farm and tell me stories of what it was like on that farm with his mother, father, and eight siblings. His Christian faith held his life together. He did not need abundance to be content. 

My Aunt Doris was a woman who had a rather regal appearance. She was what people would call a stunning woman. She loved her garden and worked in it never worrying about the hard part of gardening that bothers me. I smile when I think back to her funeral when a son-in-law told the story of asking if he could help her prepare her garden. He did not know just what he was saying for her answer was “yes”, and the job was spreading rich manure on the soil. I do not think she used the word “manure” but another word I will not repeat here.

This pastor, I believe, takes more after his mother who grew up in the city and knew little of gardening.  But my mother loved flowers in her home. I mentioned that in my Mother’s Day walk. There were always flowers in her home. That is what I love about Dale, too, is her love of flowers in our home. She cannot come home from the grocery store without a bunch of flowers. Sometimes I give her money with which to buy them but not often enough. 

One of the stories I would tell about my mother and father at wedding ceremonies was how one has to be gracious and understanding in a marriage. The story was how my dad would bring in a super large vegetable grown in his garden and present it before my mother with great pride. My mother would say how wonderful it was. She would kiss my dad, and he would return to his garden with a happy smile on his face. My sister Mil told me how he would leave the kitchen and go out into his garden,and my mother would say, “He brings those vegetables into our home and dirties my kitchen sink.” ] My mother got an “A” in praising people even when they brought dirty vegetables into her kitchen.  A good marriage has to be one filled with praise for each other even when they have different interests.

I may not want to work in Dale’s, gardens, but I love her and them. She brings the beauty of her love of gardens and flowers into my life. And flowers and love come from God. Stop for a time this spring and thank God for the beauty that he has surrounded us with in this life. Stop for a moment and gaze at the towering trees, the puffy clouds in the sky, the stars at night and say a thank you to God for that beauty that inspires people to love and to be thankful and kind. Stop and thank God for those who love to garden and bring joy to those who dwell upon this earth. Our Savior loved gardens, lilies and birds of the air,and you and me. Praise God for helping us overcome a pandemic so we might still rejoice, as Jesus would have said in God’s creation.

Thank you for walking with me. I am always open to suggestions for our walk.

And, “Now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”

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