Monday, March 30, 2020

Hope for the Future Found in My Garden

Every person has the first big world-shattering event that they remember. For me, it was when I was in second grade. My teacher was Mrs. Loving, who also happened to be the older sister of Marlon Brando (hence my love of The Godfather). We were sitting in class, working on our handwriting, and Mr. Clark, the fourth grade teacher, came into our room, whispered something to Mrs. Loving, and left the room.


Mrs. Loving looked at the class and said, "Of all the things that could happen in the world. Today, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded while it was taking off." None of us knew what that meant, but I remember going home and watching over and over the explosion on TV. I will never forget the images, the two paths of smoke veering off after the explosion. The questions. The conversations about the teacher, Christa McAuliffe, who was on board. This was the first significant event that rocked my world.

We all have these events, every generation.

The Kennedy assassination.

September 11, 2001.

The Haiti earthquake.

And on, and on, and on.

We remember these moments, and the images, and the questions we had for our parents (or that our kids had for us). We watched the news, we read the papers (or the internet), and we remember exactly where we were when we first heard about it.

Baby pomegranate
I realized this past week that the first major event that my kids will remember will be the COVID-19 Pandemic. Schools and business shut down, difficulty finding food and toilet paper, people walking around in masks and gloves and told to stay home. I went to Costco this past week, and the outside was set up with stands and ropes like a ride at Disneyland to queue people up to enter the store just to buy toilet paper. Surely, this will be one of the major things that my kids remember, and at this point there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

But I've spent some time the past two weeks walking through my backyard and looking at my garden. My apricot tree is full of baby fruits. Blood oranges and lemons are about the size of bb's, but in the next nine months will continue to grow and ripen. My Anna apple tree, which I just planted, has small fruits on it. I have peaches and oranges and mandarins and tomatoes and radishes and pomegranates and lemons and on and on and on.

Grapevine showing new growth for the year
Just like the world events, the fruits and vegetables keep coming back, year after year. And in that I find hope. I find hope that while my world has seemed to shut down, and I am now working from home as a virtual school principal, managing a virtual school and entering chat rooms instead of classrooms, my fruit trees are continuing to do what they have always done - produce fruit. While the stores seem like they have fewer people and even fewer groceries, and the roads seem empty and churches are going virtual, when all is said and done my tomato plants still produce tomatoes and my radishes will still (hopefully) be edible and I still have a 50/50 shot as to whether or not my raspberry plant actually survives and produces. I find hope, and peace, in my garden.

So while I'm at home and feeling like the world is falling apart, I will walk my garden and look at the growth. I will enjoy the beneficial bugs, and pray for bats to move into my bat house to eat all the other bugs. I will watch for the little miracles of nature, the buds and the sprouts and the flowers and the pollinators, and I will remember that everything will be okay.



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