Beginner's Heart

gratitude spiralI love autumn. Especially November, for some reason. Maybe it’s years of living where fall was an illusion in a textbook featuring an American family that didn’t really exist. In Thailand, we often swam on Christmas. November was no cooler.

Today, as I divided up outside plants for pass-along, I thought about last year’s gratitude project. Last November, I wrote each day about something I’m grateful for. As my younger son used to say, when he was very young, “it’s a tradition!” (This after doing something he liked even once!)

I keep a gratitude journal, as I’ve noted. It’s a lovely ritual I follow almost every evening, mulling over my day & thinking of the many things I have to be grateful for.  Some are frivolous: a good hair day (seriously!), a new sweater in a hard-to-find colour. Some are profound: the safe birth of my grandson, the health of my family. And most fall in between: bees working the ageratum in the garden, a mated pair of hawks calling to each other in the blue Oklahoma sky. All are gifts, and I’m very well aware of this.

the author's

the author’s

What I’m grateful for today is the gardening knowledge gleaned from my mother, my grandmother, my aunts and great-aunts. In my front garden bed, a hardy hibiscus grown from seed saved from my great-grandmother’s plant comes back every year. When I see the floppy stalks putting out blooms, I think of Great-Grandma, and the seed plant in Grandma’s back yard, and the seed given me by my aunt from hers just like it.

Yes, I’ve read hundreds of garden books (I’m not exaggerating, really). But the knowledge of when to do what, the moon signs and the dirt feel and even the joy of doing what are, really, messy chores…? These are gifts from my womenfolk. And today, thinking of the neatly repotted aloe, jade plant, kalanchoë, and more, I’m grateful. Not only for the simple skills, but also for my place in this long line of women who grow things. In the sack of plants going to my nieces & sisters is more than dirt & root & leaf. In that sack is a bit of family history. I’m grateful today for that.

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