February 2, 2016

Essay By Raymond Greiner: "Where is my Garden?"

Raymond Greiner's writings include short stories and essays published frequently in various literary journals and magazines:  Branches magazine, La Joie Journal, Literary Yard Journal, Nib Magazine, Canary Literary Journal, Bellesprit Magazine, Freedom Journal, Grace Notes Literary Magazine. His latest book, "Queenie; a novella" is available on Amazon. Raymond lives in a remote area of southern Indiana in a cabin far off a lightly traveled road with his two dogs Orion and Venus. 

IVJ Feb 2016 Greiner Wildflower Violet


Where is my Garden?

    I think I know, but recent thoughts have raised question.  I know where my spaded and tilled plot is, with its hoed and neatly spaced rows.   I know the location of my compost pile, and garden tools.  Why the question?
    This question has slowly appeared to me over time during my daily walk on this property with my dogs Orion and Venus.  This is a one-hour experience, and each day this walk is one of introspection.  We do this walk in all seasons and it serves as a see-feel-learn time, a bonding event exposing aspirations and emotional connections that are distant or unknown to those without this opportunity.  No flashing lights or fabricated sensationalism; simplistic, quiet, visual natural energy that can be difficult to discover without such presence.  The crow’s caw is mood music, or a croaking frog may break the silence, life living and free, as it has done for millenniums.  The grace and beauty of the Great Blue Heron as it exits the pond in flight as we approach.  There is flora in all seasons.  The Christmas fern is green all winter, and also the fencerow has white pine adding color to the gray days of winter.  This place is a microcosm of life, an inner connecting ecosystem, thriving, adjusting, growing and yielding to the pattern and dynamic of change.  There is a voice here, clear and defining.  This is a theatre where the curtain goes up four times a year with repetitive plays, as characters return to dance, singing songs rhythmically attached to their spiritual presence.  I have a blossom addiction, can’t get enough blossoms in my life.  Springtime brings blossoms, many, many blossoms.  My favorite is the blackberry blossom, it is so pure, white, clean and perfect, and in summer it yields luscious fruit.  Hickory nuts fall to the ground, often hit the metal roof of the hay barn with a ping and roll.  I could gather them, but leave them for the squirrels.  The ground is covered with walnuts in fall and we have pawpaw (custard apple) trees in the woods.  A big beech tree is near my cabin and causes me to remember harvesting those tiny seeds as a kid roaming the woods in West Virginia.   Where is my garden?
    The answer is I have two, one that I dream of in winter, anticipating the day when I start my tomato plants in the cabin’s window, and sharpen my hoe long before it is time to use it.  My second garden needs no hoe, needs no tilling or nurturing of any kind, it is nature’s garden, displaying the perfection I strive for in my small tilled and hoed space.  My small garden delivers joy to my soul in equal doses to nature’s garden, but a higher spiritual plane appears in nature’s garden.  Its self-care with an ability to thrive and produce is awe-inspiring.  
    Spiritual leaders teach us that God’s presence is ubiquitous, which is likely true, but as I walk with my two K9 friends, Orion and Venus, each day I am a witness to visual proof of His presence.  I imagine a world of long ago as early cultures had only one garden, provided by nature, and think of how they must have felt each year as they harvested their bounty directly from the grace of God.  They knew so much more than I know about their garden, they knew roots, berries and grasses.  They knew when to harvest the May apple, before it turned poisonous.  Their connection was intimate and fulfilling, they were children of the Earth, blessed with earthly connection.  My question is: Are we venturing in a direction that is misdirecting us?  I don’t know the answer to this question but it appears in my mind and I do wonder.  I feel we may have become spiritually weakened and lost direction.     
    It is my hope that my gardens last forever, but of course mine will pass with me.  I feel certain nature’s garden will prevail, as it has for thousands and thousands of years.  Humankind may trip and fall, but nature has superb resilience, an ability to re-generate and flex with the prevailing storms of time.  One spring we had very low temperature for April, lost all the blossoms on the fruit trees, but as I observed the tiny wildflowers, they closed up tight, endured the cold and one bright sunny day, there they were, open and brilliant, such beauty one seldom beholds.  This particular event had great impact on me, it demonstrated resilience, and an ability to transcend near impossible odds, leaving me with strength that is not found in textbooks and classrooms, it simply is a display of life.        

~Raymond Greiner

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