Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Seedling

Since the moment I ripped open this year's seed packets, I have watched.

On a warm day when timing was right, we began. The seeds were put into place and watered, and our patience was tested. In the few weeks between that moment and today, I have noticed beauty in the waiting. I've also seen an incredible alignment between parenting and gardening. While I have about the same amount of experience in both areas, today's post will flesh out that metaphor a bit.

The life cycle of a plant begins in the dark depths of the Earth.

It's comforted by warm soil on every side and waits until the conditions are right to make the first move. Above the soil we stand, wondering when the seeds will become seedlings, whether they'll be successful, or if they'll even emerge at all.

After several days, I notice a shift. Something small and green is proving mighty enough to literally move earth. Everything around the tiny plant is disrupted as the soil continues to break and settle... and break and settle. As the small plant pulls itself into the sunshine, other things are pushed out of the way. Small rocks and grass and weeds that don't seem nearly as important make way for the star of the garden.

In the weeks following what I think is the most delicate part of my plant's life, reality strikes. The seedling is no longer the most important plant in the garden. Although it needs my attention, it becomes clear I need to also focus on weeding and watering in other areas.

Sometimes the best thing for this little plant is to let it be.

As the plant thrives on its own and practically doubles in size overnight, I come to realize it never is truly still. The leaves move and stretch daily and the stem shows strength with age. As soon as I think it's good where it is, it turns into something else I love even more. I love the way its foliage contrasts against the bright blue sky. I love the way its smell floats in my yard like a perfume. I love this sign of life in a once empty plot.

Flowers dot the vibrant plant and the seed I scraped from the bottom of the packet is a memory I struggle to remember.

When the scorching summer sun fades behind the trees in the hours after dinner, I pull on my gloves and wander outside. At this stage my plant is unruly. Heavy fruit weigh it down and I try to retrain the branches going the wrong way. However, that trick doesn't always work. This plant grows where it wants to, and I do my best to prune it and give as much direction as I can. It doesn't need as much care from me anymore, as it's becoming what it was born to be. Nature and nurture push and pull, and I pray my plant grows as tall as possible.

The plant bears the most beautiful fruit as a sign of my care and the outside forces that cooperated in harmony. I cherish the summer it was mine and I care for it as long as it lets me.

Until the plant itself goes to seed.

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