To Garden in a Skirt

Posted by: Richenda at Friday July 4, 2008 in

July 4, Happy Independence Day USA!
And a belated Happy Canada Day (July 1) to Canada!

What better way to celebrate freedom and independence than in a happy garden? And I had a very happy garden. —Too happy.

I don’t know what your front walkway looks like, but we live in the Pacific Northwest where a blade of grass can grow two inches overnight. At our house, where the path to the front door was supposed to be, each and every plant was in the throes of ecstatic celebration—and had been for about a year and a half.

The result was a riot; the spirit of creation-independence burst out in every direction. Vinca, Spruce, thistle, strawberry, and, worst, the wild blackberries which stretched out their thorny green vines through fence slats and over bush and bracken. So pleased with themselves were the leggy berries that they poked out and grabbed at me as I tried to negotiate entry through our front door.

Now, the glory of creation notwithstanding, the blackberries had to go. And the thistles too. And the lovely blue spruce needed limbing, as did the twisty pine which leaned against the roof and provided a perfect skyway for pedestrian carpenter ants.

The time was now. (The time was yesterday…a year ago.) “Hippie” skirt and fake-berk sandals don’t usually make for good gardening gear, but hey, I was wearing what I was wearing and I was in the here-and-now. I decided I was going to dare the wrath of God’s spiders and challenge those vines to a test of will, stat. With tree limber in one hand and shovel in the other, I turned my attention to the riot and those vines didn’t stand a chance.

The coolest thing about gardening, I think, is the opportunity it gives you to work in the world. So much of our work (or my work anyway) takes us out of the world. I get stuffed into cars and shops and behind desks and kitchen sinks and that’s not really where the world is. The world is the sunshine and the earth turned to mulch and thorn and berry and sprig and branch and leaf. The world smells grassy, tastes dusty, scratches you, and gives you hives. The world challenges you, demands your courage, claims your sweat, and reminds you of the muscles under your skin. The world rocks.

Working in my near-full length skirt (and stepping on it, and tripping on it, and getting it twisted with thorns) I felt a kinship with millions of women across oceans and across time. Women like those of the wagon trains who walked across America, across its rivers and through the mud—all wearing full length skirts. Or the women of the renaissance, or the middle ages, the small landholders and serfs with their shifts and tunics, aprons, gowns and petticoats. If those women long ago could cross the prairie, if they could plow and plant and gather, if they could garden in a skirt, then so could I!

And as I crawled under the spruce, pried up the thorny vines, and dodged the tree limbs falling from the roof, one thing was very clear: I was a beloved child of God!

Three hours later, I was scratched and sore and thirsty, but the path was clear.

And I felt really blessed.

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