Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Sounds and the Succulents

In a recent class at the Great Outdoors, Dave Mix, with Pacific Home & Garden, taught us how to put together container pots for patio gardens. I chose to do a bowl of succulents, and with the addition of just a few more accent stones, it will be finished – or as finished as any gardening project ever is. In a land where water is increasingly precious, finding beauty in native, low-moisture varieties is such a joy.

My new little friends include hens and chicks, sedum, santolina, and baby toes. As I poked these little gems into the soil, I was struck by all the different colors from the succulent garden and out into our yard – the soft, silvery lambs ear to the dark Mexican heather fronds to the crimson tips on the dragon’s blood sedum. There are more variations of green here than on all the local paint-mart chips combined.

Succulents survive by retaining water (something I do after two margaritas and several baskets of chips). They send the message: “Set me in the sun and leave me alone. I’m tough, I can take it. I can get by on just a little. Let me be.”

Of course, I’m suspicious about such neglect. It’s hard for me to respect their wishes and not over-water them. Even my hovering is cutting off their sunshine. I’m learning to leave them alone – and am grateful that you don’t have to deadhead a cactus.

At the seminar, Dave also taught us how to listen to our pots by patting and ringing them somewhat like a toning bowl. When a pot is cracked, it makes a funny thud next to an un-cracked one, and you can detect even a hairline fracture. So now this crackpot knows how to spot a cracked pot.

Toning and the use of sound have long been studied for their healing effects on the body. We enjoy the constant gurgle of a fountain and waterfall in our koi pond, as the fish dip and slip among the reeds cruising toward their next slow mosquito meal. The sound of the water draws down our shoulders and floats away the day’s cares. Nightly it call us out to the patio where we dip in our fingertips to check the temperature, still too cool for the lily pads to rise.

These days, the flow and gurgle of lively conversation with good friends and family keeps me sustained. I’m comfortable working alone and can enjoy long hours in solitude, but it’s an oasis when we gather and share laughter and stories. It seems more important than ever that we simply stop and together witness our lives, in sunshine and in shadow.

Where is your oasis? Have you paid attention to the sounds you love today? What are they? Notice what brings you contentment and allow it into your life each day.

In the meantime, if you ring my doorbell and I don’t answer, I’m just out back – ignoring the cactus and watching for the lily pads to rise.

Great Outdoors:
Pacific Home & Garden:

1 comment:

  1. Your thoughts make a direct connection to my present state--physically and mentally. For nine days I've been in Sparta, NC with my husband, working on the construction of our retirement home in the mountains. The first few days I went with him to the site, but when it got hectic, I got out of the way, and stayed put in the motel room. Me, the laptop, and books. No cooking or cleaning. Just free, quiet time. Heavenly time.

    I've put aside worries of all the mail piling up back home and am sinking into the luxury of uninterrupted hours for creating. I've fine tuned my novel, (yet again) sent out a batch of agent queries, and am reading, reading, reading.

    By mid afternoon I'm ready for a walk to the local coffee shop, where I drink French roast and talk with the locals. Instead of being a Chatty Kathy after all the hours of quiet, I am mellow--at peace--refreshed.

    What's my oasis? Silence. Whether it be tucked away at anchor in an island cove, or holed up in a motel room in Sparta, NC., I crave the hours of silence that allow me exhale, refocus, and create.