Take A Chance

We added a patio to our back yard several years ago, which left an area between our house and the new patio that needed some landscaping.  I went to a garden supply store and bought several bushes, which we planted according to the directions on the labels, paying careful attention to how large they were supposed to grow.  But either the person who wrote those labels knows even less about plants than I do or the bushes had their own ideas regarding optimal growth, because every one of them grew to at least three times their predicted size.  What was supposed to be an artistic  arrangement of greenery and flowers looked more like an over-grown jungle with each passing week.

We dug up a few bushes and moved them to other parts of our yard, hoping they would survive the transplant.  Most of them did.  But then we were left with a scraggly-looking plant that was wedged in between a crepe myrtle and an evergreen.  I didn’t remember buying it and wasn’t even sure whether it was a bush or a particularly ambitious weed.  My husband and I debated whether we should transplant it or simply pull it out, but in the end we decided to move it to the side of the house to replace a rose bush that had died last year.

It was in the middle of summer and I had no idea what kind of sunlight this particular plant preferred, so I knew the odds of survival weren’t good.  I also knew it was entirely possible that we were going to all this effort to save a weed, possibly even a version of a ragweed that both my husband and I are allergic to.  But for some strange reason, replanting seemed the right thing to do.

IMG_2815The plant not only lived, it thrived.  And the last time I was at a garden center, I saw one that looked just like it and eagerly read the label.  Turns out, that scraggly bush wasn’t a weed at all…it’s actually a butterfly bush (which I still don’t remember buying).  And this whole past week it’s been busy attracting monarch butterflies.

I’m not, and never have been, what you’d call an optimistic person.  Right now I have a pain in a lower molar which I’m quite certain is going to require some kind of serious and expensive treatment, because a pain in my tooth can’t mean anything else, right?  Looking at the bright side is not my strong point and neither is expecting good things, despite the fact that I have had my share of good things in life.  It’s a negative thought pattern that I have always struggled with and truly hope to overcome some day.

Which is the point of the story of the butterfly bush.  I’m not good at gardening and most of the bushes and flowers that I plant die well before their time despite my best efforts.  But I overcame my natural pessimism and gave that weedy-looking plant a chance, and the reward was a thriving and beautiful butterfly bush that actually does attract butterflies.  And I hope that whenever I look at it, I’ll remember the lesson it taught me.  Because I really do want to become a person who is more willing to take a chance on something good.

Searching For Summertime

If you know me at all, you know that I am no fan of winter.  I hate being cold, I’m afraid to drive on icy roads, and as a volunteer dog walker at the local Humane Society, I spend a lot of time outside, even on the coldest of days.  That means I spend most of the winter waiting impatiently for the weather to warm up so I can ditch my scarves, coats, gloves, and most importantly, my long underwear.  So I am getting more than a little cranky about the fact that it is now July 7th, and yet I still don’t feel as if summer has even begun.

DSC03343July in St. Louis is supposed to be hot and humid.  This is the time of year when I am supposed to be wearing capris (they hide more spider veins and cellulite than shorts, which is important at my age), cooling off at a swimming pool, eating dinner on my backyard patio and enjoying the flowering blooms I worked so hard to plant in the spring.  I should be excited about the tomatoes beginning to ripen on my gigantic tomato plants (I have no idea why they get so big) and I should be spending my evenings at outdoor concerts in the park, complaining about the humidity and swatting at mosquitoes, but still happy to be outside.

But instead of a normal St. Louis summer, this year we have gotten mostly cool weather and a whole lot of rain.  We’ve had a couple of days of true summer heat, but the minute I begin to adjust to it, another cold front comes along, bringing a drop in temperatures and more rain.  The flowers I so carefully planted a couple of months ago are in danger of drowning, we’ve had exactly two meals on our patio since Memorial Day and I haven’t gotten to go swimming once.  Admittedly, given what I look like in a swim suit these days, that last one isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But still, I should at least have the option to go swimming if I want to.  And when I go out for dinner, I usually have to bring along a sweater or light jacket, just in case in stops raining long enough that we might get to sit outside.  A sweater, mind you……in July!

156I know that there are many areas of the country right now suffering from terrible drought, and I truly wish I could send some of our cold and rain their way.  Because I am well and truly tired of it, and I want the summer I spent those cold winter months dreaming of.  I want to go outside in my bare feet; I want to eat produce I have grown myself, I want to enjoy stepping into a cool shower after coming home from the Humane Society hot and sweaty from walking dogs.   Most importantly, I want the chance to grow so tired of the heat and humidity that I am actually glad when fall comes around, even though I know it will be followed by the dreaded winter.  Because face it, I need my summers….they’re what help me get through my winters!