Outside In

Chris Lupella

Christine Sierocki Lupella experiences life in the Jewish community from a non-Jewish perspective

Outside In

Reunion

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I've been scanning gardening books and catalogs since they arrived the day after New Year's, dreaming of colorful English gardens, bushels of sweet, ruby red tomatoes and brown bags loaded with renegade zucchini. Each time we were pummeled with ice and snow, I took refuge in my gardening memories.

It seemed that white stuff would never go away. Yet with the exception of a few stubborn specimens, the omnipresent snirt* piles in my neighborhood dissolved last week, giving way to sunshine and somewhat warmer temperatures.

My husband and I took advantage of the weekend's spring weather to begin work on our weather beaten yard. My perennial garden looked especially forlorn.

My perennials and I are the oldest of friends. We visit all summer and regretfully head our separate ways as the north wind signals autumn's return. The winter is long, cold and silent, and I can't wait to reunite with my garden. To see green rather than 50 shades of gray and watch buds open to reveal bright orange, yellow, purple and pink. To sit nearby and listen to the breeze rustle through the grasses and the bees' symphonic hum as they gather pollen. To carry the sweet scent of dianthus in my hair, and smell the warm earth in my clothes.

Donning purple work gloves, I commenced the spring reunion ritual. Cutting hollow lily stems that resembled abstract sculptures and pruning multiple tiers of tattered brown foliage- from tall grasses and overgrown catmint to nearly petrified remnants of black-eyed Susans, my knees and hindquarters alternately sank into the soft ground. Absorbed in clearing and piling the dead stuff, I nearly missed the treasures hidden below.

Tiny green leaves emerged from the soggy soil, looking for a bit of sunshine and warmth. Several crocuses joyfully lifted their lemon-colored faces to the sky, welcoming spring with open arms. I had forgotten how lovely the crocuses are, dotting the landscape with their cheery presence and paving the way for daffodils, tulips and other harbingers of spring.

Gardening is good for the soul. It reminds us that beautiful things come from humble beginnings and connects us to the earth and The Creator. Gardening pulls us out of ourselves as we gently tend to our floral (or vegetable!) friends through sunshine and shadow, rain and drought, winter and summer. Gardening grounds us in the present and gives us hope for the future.

*Snow + Dirt = Snirt

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