In early April of this year, I wanted to jump-start my yardwork for the summer. Normally I would wait until school was over for the summer, but this year, with Covid-19 and distance learning shutting down my daily physical journey to school, I decided to take a different approach.
My "spring break" had arrived rather unceremoniously. I was already not in school even though I continued to teach the best I could through a collection of programs, videos, and classroom chats on Google Meet. My heart and mind were ready to venture outside for some new scenery, something not emanating from a computer screen.
I hired one of my seniors who was working to make money for college to spread mulch for me. This would save me time for other things I had wanted to do. His father came with him to supervise and lend him a hand, and we began talking about an underdeveloped area beside my porch.
Beneath a nearby pine tree, Mom had this old, decrepit park bench that would break into pieces if a person were to sit on it. I told the father that I was thinking of throwing that piece of junk away as it served no real use. He told me that nothing is junk to him and that I could find a good place for it.
With minimal hesitation, I carefully moved the old bench beside the porch where it rested in the recently spread mulch. I stepped back for a long look into the future then said to the father, "You know, you are right. I can see cleaning the sludge off and putting flowers on here. That would be really nice."
So as spring slowly moved to summer, I would occasionally add more plants there, moving them around until I found just the right amount of sun for each one. I planted marigolds in the barrel planter, nestled pots of impatiens and coleuses around the bench, and repotted discount flowers left for dead at Lowe's.
I watered them all each morning in an effort to keep as many of these plants thriving as long as possible. I continued to clip and replant. I fertilized. Then, like everything in my life, I lost interest. I would forget to water regularly, I worked on my writing, I went on vacation, and I was just not as exuberant midsummer as I was in April.
This weekend, the one before I head back to school, I took a closer, more reflective, look at the state of our little garden by the porch. It was still going strong. The decrepit park bench I nearly threw away was now a backdrop to a beautiful growth of flowers. The entire stretch flourished in the arid August sun beneath the shade of the pine trees. Even though I have seen more expansive displays of flowers throughout the summer, none of them brings me as much joy as this.
At times, we are strangers to events that force us to transition from one stage of our lives to the next. Unfortunately, we tend to be uneasy with these transitions. Moments of exhilaration disappear into those shadowed in mediocrity and despair. Times of uncertainty fade away, revealing those glimmering in hope and promise.
By repurposing old ways with new outlooks, we become our own catalysts for the change we want and need during times when the future may be uncertain. And as the sun sets down the road, we can always take a closer look at our efforts in order to appreciate the choices we have made.