All week long I thought I’d be writing about the holiday visits with each of our grandchildren, one at a time, for twenty-four hours. The time with them deepened my appreciation for their unique qualities as human beings, each at his or her stage of development, and also my feeling of gratitude for what they all bring to my life. I was going to write about the funny things they said, their art projects, on paper and in the mud, their individual expressions of the family gene pool. Then the garden froze.
For two mornings in a row, ice formed exquisite patterns among rocks and vegetables, at least until the sun rose, melting it into chilly pools. Even some of the rocks were slippery with ice and made a cracking sound as I stepped on them. The fall plants fared better than the holdovers from summer, except for the sunflowers. Rarely experiencing frost here in the desert, it’s always a disappointment when the sunflowers fail to survive, due to all the effort it takes to nurture them from seeds to the tall plants they become. Ironically, I had just read about the importance of learning to delight in the situation we are in. I have to say delight was not my first response to a garden full of wilted, dead sunflowers.
It took less than a minute for my thoughts to shift, however, when I remembered the Haitians nearly a year ago losing their lives, limbs, and loved ones to a more drastic type of shift, that of the earth’s surface. Our frosty brush with nature was nothing in comparison. As I scanned the rest of the damage, evaluating which plants wouldn’t make it to spring, it was apparent how many plants actually did survive. The rosemary bush was unscathed, as well as the strawberries, one of the volunteer tomatoes, all of the chard and kale, and best of all, Grace’s apple tree.
I was unsure about her tree that first morning when I noticed a frozen drop on the tip of each remaining leaf. As extraordinary as those drops were, it took their disappearance in the sunshine for me to believe that the tree’s heartiness might prevail and apples were still a possibility. In that moment, I admit, my heart felt delight. Moving forward into this new year, I will think often of the garden freeze, and let it serve as a prompt for delight whenever I doubt a situation life brings my way.