With the temperature in the low 70’s today, it seemed as if spring was stirring, even though the date, February 7, would deny that. Sunshine and a warm breezy afternoon offered an invitation to be outdoors, which I readily accepted.
Gathering gardening tools and my heavy gloves, I headed into the backyard to take advantage of the unseasonable weather (we broke a record today for high temperature) and bring some tidiness to the flower border and the apothecary garden. The first thing I saw as I entered the yard was a dandelion in bloom. What a sweet harbinger of spring!
And what a blissful couple of hours spent doing one of the activities that I most enjoy. Gardening is therapeutic for me, a way to expend energy and move my body while absorbing the beauty and peace in nature. Even with the brown plants, the garden is beautiful and restorative to my body and soul. Using loppers and long bladed shears, I cleaned up the hosta garden and the southern border, cutting back dead vegetation and pulling a few courageous blades of grass. The garden slumbers now, yet soon the border will be alive with colorful perennials pushing up through the soil.
Before moving to the herb garden, I pulled a canvas chair from the garage and sat in the sunshine, head tipped back, eyes closed. Birds twittered all around me and the breeze felt fresh on my face. The cats, sensing my whereabouts, joined me in the garden, playing among the dry ornamental grasses, and taking turns sitting on my lap. When I returned to work, the youngest, Marco, stole my chair, curling up to nap in the sunshine.
The apothecary garden gave me such joy last summer and in the fall, bountiful clippings of herbs which I dried and have used over the winter. As I cleaned up the area, cutting back plants that are dry and brown above ground, they released their aroma into the air. I removed my gloves so that the scents transferred to my hands. I stopped often to stretch my back and bring my cupped hands to my nose, inhaling spicy basil, pungent rosemary and tangy lemongrass. That gave me an idea. I collected the clippings in a bucket, eyeing my fire pit.
As the sun began to sink toward the horizon, I finished my tasks for the day and returned to the brick patio. One of the things I enjoy doing with dried herbs is making my own potpourri and burning it on a small briquette of charcoal. The earthy, fresh scent that rises into the air with the smoke fills my home. I have never burned dried herbs outdoors. Making a small framework within the fire pit, using a few small branches, I added the herb clippings and set the pile ablaze. Because of the breeze, I used the mesh cover on the fire pit. The spark leapt into life, creating a homey crackling fire, and fragrant smoke roiled into the air. I settled into my lawn chair with a contented sigh and watched the result of my work burn away, gifting me as it did so with an amazing scent.
As the sun dropped below the level of the privacy fence, a bright red spot of sunlight appeared in a gap between boards. I was intrigued with the illusion of twin flames, one within and one without the fence, beacons of light and hope. What a beautiful finish to the day. Tomorrow, which promises to be just as warm and sunny as today, I will trim back the ornamental grasses, in preparation for their new growth this spring. I bought a new power tool today, an electric hedge trimmer, just for this task. I can’t wait to try it out!