last one standing: lesson from a garden
she’s caught my heart, this one. she pays no mind to wind or windchill. no mind to season. or slant of sun. or the fact that all around her, the garden’s gone to sleep–shriveled, bent and altogether spent.
not this one, though. she’s bright-eyed, bold, and taking her sweet time.
she is my forget-me-not. and i won’t.
oh, no, i won’t.
she’s the last one standing in my garden. there are others fallen, faded, dangling, dozing. but she is clearly on a clock that’s all her own.
she seems emboldened by the going-down of all her once-steady companions. the dusty rose is somber now. the black-eyed susans, crumbling back to earth. the feverfew is chilled.
but not my stalwart one, uncompromised by calendar.
i’d been charmed whole weeks ago, when, as i was raking up the muck and tossing shredded leaves for winterkeeping, i’d noticed how she was shooting toward the sky, paying no mind to the fact that summer had passed her by, and she was just now considering a bloom.
i have no clue what she’d been thinking all summer long. must have been lolligagging to her own melody.
you see, i’d planted her from seed. a hundred thousand hours ago, or so it seemed, back when snowdrifts still clung to my kitchen window box, and i needed seed to sow for the promise that it holds.
i’d tucked those itty-bitty myosotis sylvatica seeds–think poppy seed, then divide by five and you approximate the size–in a little pile of potting soil, inside a little potting cup, and set it on my sill.
i’d watered, and hoped. and waited.
wasn’t long before i saw the itty-bitty bits of green. good morning world, they seemed to mumble, as they stretched their necks and arms, yawned and met the day.
in time, they grew strong and hardy enough to tuck outside. but i forgot to read the itty-bitty words on the back of the seed packet, so i planted them smack dab in the sun. which, of course, they don’t like so much, preferring where the shadows fall.
being on the shy side, demure even, they never did complain. just took their holy blessed time, i suppose. took till september till i saw much of any action.
and that’s about the time my friend-in-the-making jutted cloudward. and then, not long after that, she sent out little spurts of blue. a blue so pure it could melt you. if blue was butter, this would be that blue. meltable blue. not shocking, not cobalt, certainly not navy. mostly rather like the color of september sky, on the days when the whipped meringue of cloud is the only interruption in an endless pool of, well, forget-me-not blue.
and so, she kept it up. the later it got, the closer the earth and sun moved to the equinox, the more insistent she became.
she was hellbent, apparently, on blooming, and she was not about to let a little frost get in her way.
fact is, just the other morning, i awoke to winter’s thin-veiled hint that it was coming, not far ’round the bend. the hoary frost was stretched from limb to limb. blades of grass stood still at frozen white attention. gutters glistened with the first icy crystals of the dawn’s deep chill.
but not my forget-me-not.
by now, you’ve caught her drift, so i hardly need to tell you that she was, of course, tall and pert and going strong. all day she seemed to be whistling. look at me, she called. i can’t be felled. not by something so ephemeral as a frost that melts by 9 o’clock. in the morning, mind you.
and so, as i wobble through these days that try me, i am inspired, braced by the forget-me-not that did not forget to bloom.
so what if she wholly skipped the part of the instructions that promised she would explode in blue before the pumpkins came?
is she not all the more exotic, rare, cherished, for the fact that she alone trumpets in my sleepy garden?
she stands in glory still, bless her, reminding me at every turn, that there is holiness in minding your own rhythm, in standing on your own, in paying no mind to what the others choose to do, or how or when they do it.
she is prayer on a stem. she is defiant, and i find her humbling.
there is in my garden a stalk or two, each one ending in the bluest blue. and she is, oh, yes, my sacred blessed testament to a dream that refused to die.
i’ll not forget her. i promise that.
have you caught the whisperings of some living thing that seems to hold a necessary truth? is there a tree out your window that reminds you to stand tall against the winds? is there a mountain rising that always catches glint of sun, or a brook that meanders, takes its time and turns, but always runs toward the shore where it is freed to cross the globe? do you, like me, find firmament in the natural world? do you allow an itsy bitsy flower to speak to you, imparting wisdom you need to know?