The power of tending to small things…

The power of tending to small things... by Keri Kettle

Photo credit: Stacy de la Rosa

Know your magic. What is it about you that changes things? That changes people? What is it inside you that changes? How is that even possible?

If you know more brand names than plant names, start there.

Rachael Rice*

When you go to visit my grandmother, you have to let her show you the land.  She lives outside of Buckeye, Arizona – just off Jackrabbit Trail.  It looks just as you would imagine a place with those names would look – a lot of dirt, a lot of scrubby looking Mesquite trees, the odd tumbleweed rolls by on a windy day.  She has carved out a space around her home where she manages to keep some roses, some grass and a few scrappy annuals alive in the desert.  When you visit my grandmother, you have to honor the effort it took her to create that magical patch of blooming earth.

She will guide you, because if you go on your own, you might not see how the leaves of the bulbs she planted years ago are starting to poke through the earth under the shade of the tree for another year’s bloom.  Every gardener knows that there is no greater sign of determination and hope than the first few inches of a sprouting bulb’s leaves reaching out of the dirt.

If she wasn’t there, you might miss the bit of Alyssum, still blooming despite all efforts of the hot, desert sun to show it that it doesn’t belong here.  She will call the Alyssum a “stubborn old goat” and you will know she is half talking about the Alyssum and half talking about herself.

It will be a slow journey, even though the garden is small.  She will need to bend over and grab a weed here and there (these days she might need you to do that for her).  She will ask you to move that drip hose a little closer to make sure that the roses don’t get too thirsty.  You will notice that the tumbleweed grass is curling it’s way under the fence, ready to overtake her little garden as soon as her back is turned, but it would be unkind to point it out. She is well aware that when she goes, this little patch will be swallowed back up by the desert quicker than you can say Jack Robinson. She’s already grieving a bit about it as she straightens the ceramic frog along the path as we slowly make our way back to the house.

I don’t force tours of our little garden on all of my visitors.  Yet.  I do the honoring of the land all on my own.  I walk among the plants, whispering thanks to the bees and hummingbirds. I bend down to pull a weed here and there.  I make sure the drip hoses are close enough to quench the tiny thirsts of our miraculous drought tolerant plants that somehow survive on drops of water.  I miss the desert smell of the rain on mesquite trees but if I pinch the leaves on the Rockrose, they release a scent that lives in the same neighborhood.  I see the tough, old Brazilian Pepper Tree curling through the fence. It is ready to overtake this garden as soon as we turn away.

When the world feels too loud and my nerves are jangled, I walk out to the little patch of land we are tending.  I am reminded of my grandmother.  I am reminded to slow down and notice the tiny miracles.  I am reminded that my time here is short and the amount of change that I make while I’m here is up to me.


*See the full bad ass message this quote was taken from here.

Please share your thoughts.