Surrender 49: Creating a Little Chaos of My Own

With the temperatures reaching a high of 77 degrees today, I totally surrendered to the call of the outdoors. Such a gorgeous day in February was an exciting gift, one I couldn’t wait to unwrap and enjoy. Donning old clothes, gloves, and my straw gardening hat, I sauntered into the warm sunshine and started the process of tidying up the flower and herb gardens surrounding the house. 


My priority this afternoon was to cut back the tall grasses, still standing golden and tasseled in a variety of beds. I use a wonderful electric hedge trimmer to accomplish this task more easily. The clumps of decorative grass are cut down to six inches, to allow the new green stalks to appear and grow. 

Greg arrived, after a day of playing golf, just as I started working in the yard. He graciously offered his help! Between the two of us, the grasses were quickly cut back. Piling arm loads of stalks onto the brickio, I inhaled the fresh earthy scent of the dried grasses. I was reminded of the hay that my daughter Elissa used to toss into the horse stalls at feeding time. 

The trimmer was great at cutting back dry herbs too, and I caught the aroma of lemon grass, lemon balm, basil, rosemary, Russian sage and thyme. With wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour today, and a burn ban in effect, I didn’t start a fire in the fire pit. When the wind calms down I’ll burn the grasses and dried herbs in the fire pit, creating a unique outdoor potpourri that smells so wonderfully fragrant. 


The surprise this afternoon was discovering that my garden is already stirring from its winter slumber. The weather has been mild, with very few extremely cold days. The grasses, lemon balm and day lilies are pushing tender green shoots through the soil. The clematis has new growth appearing. And the lilac bush is budding. I realize it is unseasonably warm today, and there’s likely to be more cold days coming, but I’m hoping for an early spring. My heart filled with joy, seeing green in the garden today. 


I have more to do in the gardens the next few days, while the warm temperatures linger. It already looks differently after today’s labor…trimmed back, messy, bare…and poised to explode soon with every shade of green and riotous color.  I was so inspired recently by the movie A Little Chaos, as the gardeners in that film brought beauty forth from a wild and tangled plot of land. A bit of Eden was created, that contained both order and chaos. I deeply identify with that creative urge, to bring lush, abundant life from the ground that both pleases the eye, and the soul, and astounds them. I too am creating a bit of Eden…a little chaos and wildness of my own. This is paradise found, surely. 

Journey 38: Hope of Spring

Hope of spring dandelion

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!

Hope of spring messy garden

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.

hope of spring marco

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.

hope of spring cleaned up garden

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.

hope of spring herbs

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!

hope of spring two fires