Cookie-Jar Redemption

Thirty-four years ago my husband and I were young, in love, and dreaming of our future home  filled with a passel of energetic children, fresh-baked cookies, and opportunites as abundant as grandma’s zucchini patch. One of our treasured wedding gifts was this personalized cookie jar which held its place on our kitchen counter from home to home through military and civilian transfers. It served its purpose well with a continous flow of home baked fare throughout the years. Somehow, I don’t even remember the transition, our well-loved cookie jar made its way to the attic. With an empty nest and easily expandable waistlines, keeping cookies accessible on the counter top didn’t seem to be wisest of options.

This past winter I decided to tackle a purging of our long neglected attic, an amassment of Wise family history and sentimentality that seemed to have its deepest hold primarily on my sense of “someday someone may want this.” But my children are now creating their own neglected attics and it was time to start letting some things go. Uncovered in the corner of the attic was the loved cookie jar and I just couldn’t let it go. This wedding gift had been a part of so many great memories. Besides, who else would want a cookie jar that says Steve & Barbara Wise?!

But we still didn’t need cookies sitting on the counter so the horticulturist in me took over and saw that what I had before me was a cleverly disguised terrarium just waiting to be planted.

Using a thin layer of small stone to layer the bottom, topped with another thin layer of activated charcoal, I added a layer of container mix potting soil before planting an assortment of moisture loving small ferns and tropical plants.

I finished with a topdressing of moss and lichen collected from my sister-in-loves farmland.

This cookie-jar, a part of our family story, was a silent witness to welcoming my husband home from military tours, to welcoming new sons, to birthday parties, and holidays, and watching us all mature and change. It was a part of us growing. And in its redemption from being cast away in the attic it becomes a part of the growing, taking its place on my home office desk: I, in my new phase of life enjoying the revised named plant-jar in its new phase of life.

Thirty four years later we are no longer young and being in love has levels of truth far deeper than I imagined, but the dreams we shared unfolded, transfomed, and grew. Now when I sit at my desk I have a reminder that growing takes different forms and that redeeming something from the past is one of life’s sweetest actions.

Getting Life Back in Focus

Big life choices are never easy. And sometimes the fear of making a wrong choice can be paralyzing, leaving us in that state of status quo that can be alternately comfortable and stifling.  The reality that choices I make can affect so many different people seems too often to escape me… until I start making mistakes. This week was an avalanche of human interaction where it seemed just about everywhere I turned I had made a choice that left someone angry, frustrated, or resentful. Now let me make this clear – most of the choices I’m talking about here are not ethical, moral, or issues of propriety – most of what I’m dealing with has to do with shades of pansies, timing of plant installations, or baby blanket colors. And it really started with a choice I made to leave my comfort zone and step into something a bit more challenging. And a part of that avalanche of human interaction on a more personal level started months ago when I chose to speak the truth to those I care about. 
Now, I won’t go into all the details of my terrible, horrible, no-good week. This is not a post to elicit empathy. This is about the result of owning my weaknesses and failures, looking at what really matters in life, and accepting the fact that living outside my comfort zone will sometimes and maybe even way too often leave me – why am I surprised by this – uncomfortable
So today I rode my bike, I enjoyed my garden, and I sat and looked for hours at growing up pictures of my precious sons. (And watched some football of course because it IS a Saturday in autumn).  I thought of how blessed I am to be a mother. I thought of how fortunate I am to work in a profession that is fascinating to me and continually allowing me learn more. And as I walked through my garden, I realized that once again my garden had something to teach me about life and persevering through the hard times. 

Perseverance – walking through my garden I saw plants that had endured a blistering June and psychotic weather changes the rest of the summer. These Encore azaleas had the grandest display I’d ever seen in late fall, their girlie flirty delicate flowers seem a stark contradiction to the stress they had endured.

The hydrangea plants are a spindly mess right now but are laden with several heavy blooms that stand out significantly against all the weary foliage around it.

I love the new coreopsis that have come out these last few years – plants that hide how tough they are because of their airy foliage. Even now they keep on giving providing food source for our pollinators.

This is blooming wonderfully around my mailbox right now. Passionflower was used in traditional early American medicine as an herb to treat anxiety and hysteria. Wish I’d had some of that long with me to offer some of my clients this week…

Kerria japonica plenifora – graceful and happily blooming after months of neglect.

Another variety of those wonderful new coreopsis “Fruit Punch”.

Reblooming Iris

Black and Blue salvia

 Pineapple Salvia –

Senorita Blancha Cleome

Lobularia Blushing Princess – bloomed ALL SUMMER LONG!

One of my all-time favorite summer annuals – Troy’s Gold Plectranthus

And this is the “big, old, wild shrub” that hubby couldn’t understand why I wanted to keep it. Until he sat on our back porch a couple of weeks ago and kept wondering what that delightful fragrance was. Yesterday I showed him what our scent of the season was – Elaeagnus (silverberry). The beauty of life is not always seen in every season. Pressing on with hope that the good will come, and maybe not as we expected – in a subtle fragrance rather than a showy flower – and my garden inspires me once again that in my weary and worn out state beauty can grow.