The overnight frost alerts have ended, and real gardening begins. Though I have liberated the emerging ferns and mayapples from the suffocating grip of garlic mustard, filling yard waste bag after bag with it because no one wants garlic mustard in their compost, I am going to have to leave the rest of it to go to dreaded seed. It is time to move on to the fenced garden, and ready it for the tomato plants currently waving from the upstairs window.
The fenced garden has already been producing asparagus. This is another of many fine things I enjoy as the fruit of someone else’s labor: I moved into the house one summer, and the next spring all this asparagus appeared with no effort on my part. I had never seen asparagus in its neonatal condition, and it made me laugh. It looks for all the world like someone snuck out into the garden when nobody was looking, and stood a lot of asparagus spears up in the dirt as a joke.
And then there’s the dogwood tree: another example of something wonderful that just showed up that first spring. Wanting to add my contribution to all this largesse, it pleases me no end to think of the future householders looking out the window to what was once my yard on a fine spring day – and may it be many years from now – to be greeted by the daffodils I planted and the redbud trees I have placed as understory in the woods, and see that someone loved this place, and worked to make it more beautiful.
Dogwood in May
I have done nothing to deserve this tree.
When it was planted I was far away,
and those who lived here never thought of me
as each year’s petals whitened into May,
and summer came to silently retrieve
the green it left behind when it moved on.
The planters grew into their time to leave
and gathered their existence, and were gone.
I stand here now with barrow, shovel, rake,
in contemplation of the liberty
I know that I habitually take,
receiving what was never given me,
but with a gardener’s hope, I sow the seed
to make my present what the future needs.