tucking in promise

by bam

it’s borrowed time, i sense. the bitter chilly autumn is borrowing from end-of-summer. the air, uplifted by warm currents passing by. not yet finger-numbing cold. though it should be.

and so, i got reprieve. free pass to tuck in bulbs just two weeks before thanksgiving.

any day now, snows could hurl. winds, whistle. i’ve no business waiting till this morning to amble out to where my shovel lies, settling into winter’s slumber, the nap that’s undisturbed till the earth begins to stir.

but i pulled that sharp-edged blade from the hook where it hangs, i put it back in service, just one more time so i could tuck in promise for the months beyond the darkness.

it’s bulb day at my house, and not a minute too soon.

as is always, always the case when it comes to garden tasks, they serve my soul as much as they serve my soils.

there is resurrection at the heart of slicing into earth, wrenching back the sable-colored loam, wincing at the bits that i’ve disturbed, impaled, with my digging.

there is faith galore in tucking in a bulb, concentrated life. in setting it just so, so the roots are poking down and the shoot is facing skyward, where the vernal sun will come, will tickle it awake, will coax it from the frozen earth, will break through, will startle me with tender slips of green.

and as i made my way through sack after sack of bulbs–daffodil and scilla, snowdrops and itty-bitty hyacinth–i couldn’t help but think of march and april hence, when our world here will be clearer, when the equation will be known. when i will be able to whisper the name of the college where my firstborn’s headed. when i will know what’s around the bend.

we are living this year in the ebb and flow of time, in looking back and peeking forward. in recounting and projecting. in swirling, swirling all around.

and this year the bulbs i plant, they are the bulbs of the tomorrow that we’ve aimed for for a very long time.

i will watch those blooms unfold, i will pluck them, pull them in the house, as i gather up bouquets for his graduation day, as i soothe my wincing heart, as i watch my boy unfold toward college.

and next year’s bulbs, they will be the bulbs i plant while awaiting word from far away–the first semester under foot. how go the classes? how goes the rowing on a river i don’t know? how goes your heart so far away from mine?

each year, those of us who tend our gardens as if our souls, we wait till cool winds come, and the sun slips lower in the sky, and then we head out with bulb and shovel, to tuck in promise for the warmth to come.

bless the bulbs. and bless the blooming on the morrow.

now sleep, for winter’s just around the corner.

there is more to be done, as i dress the beds for winter, race to beat the bitter cold: chunky cotton-burr mulch to work in, to feed and aerate all at once. top coat of chopped-up leaves, mounded round the trunks and roots, nature’s scarf to stop the winds. then i’ll slip in the house, crank the kettle, start my winter’s vigil, the season of introspection that is at the heart of me and my garden.
question: how do you plant yourself a bumper crop of hope? or at least a slip of it? believing that light will follow darkness?