"Long have I loved what I behold,
The night that calms, the day that cheers;
The common growth of mother-earth
Suffices me--her tears, her mirth,
Her humblest mirth and tears.”
"These given, what more need I desire
To stir, to soothe, or elevate?
What nobler marvels than the mind
May in life's daily prospect find,
May find or there create?
To the stone-table in my garden,
Loved haunt of many a summer hour…”
John Keats - Ode to a Nightingale
After a long day working in the back yard, I sometimes sit with a glass of wine and a garden journal, trying to remember and note what is planted where. It’s a practice I often used to skip – trying instead to wring out the last daylight out doing whatever needs doing during this busy season before twilight chases me indoors.
In recent years, I find the stopping and sitting to be increasingly more important than the busy doing of gardening chores. My knees are worn out, and my sprained ankle continues to remind me it’s not quite ready to get back out into the game. Sitting on the bench, I find these aches and pains recede as I learn to observe and enjoy life’s daily prospect from my stone table.
The trick is for me to learn how to look at the garden and see beauty, to watch the bees, and listen to the wind. If I sit still, I can hear the water splashing into the pond nearby, the birds in the canyon nearby, and to hear somewhere in the distance an unseen dog barking and children shouting in sheer joy. It’s not easy for me to sit and appreciate what’s here now instead of seeing what needs doing tomorrow, or next week, or next year. But learning to enjoy mother earth’s humble mirth and tears is a skill worth mastering.