Sitting at my desk in my bedroom I have a marvelous view. Well, beyond the scraps of paper, lists, old photos, and the detritus of empty boxes and what-not that no one knows where to put, so it ends up on Mom’s desk. But over the top of my laptop I see into our back yard. And there in full Spring glory– forsythia. Actually, two forsythia bushes grow along the back property line along the fence of my suburban yard. I love the lilac tree, and the daffodils are dandy. But the forsythia are spectacular.
Now, before you mistake me for an avid or even proficient gardener, know that all this blooming excess was here when we bought the house over twenty years ago. And though I have enjoyed the blooming times I have done little to nothing to augment the flora and fauna on Bayridge. Although I greatly appreciate beautiful landscaping and gardens my efforts through the years have dwindled down to container gardening.
Now I know that packing a few pots full of petunias and pansies is to gardening what taking a stroll with the dog is to training for a marathon. No comparison. And though I may even read another blogger’s post on gardening (Trowel Tart, quite amusing and informational) I never actually garden per se.
But, I do enjoy those forsythia.
But before you envision two beautifully sculpted shrubs let me confess that they are both gone wild. By that I mean that our attempts at pruning and shaping have basically been failures. I grew up with a “handy, mechanical type” father and a mother who spent any free time reading. No gardeners there. My husband descended from a long line of city dwellers without the prerequisite land to grow things. And so, when we first became proud owners of “real” estate we thought we’d become gardeners but alas,our interest lasted only a summer or two and what we didn’t turn to green grass we paved into a patio.
But we kept the forsythia.
We have almost every year attempted to “shape” the bushes. I did learn the basics of shrub care. Prune the old wood, trim after flowering and before the leaves turn. (Although I did like the recommendation of one old master gardener that the best time to prune was “when the knife was sharp.”) But mostly we just never got it right. Some years we would over prune and have no blossoms the next year. Other years we would neglect the bushes and the bloom would be spotty.
So, today, Mother’s Day, I was enjoying the blossoms and thinking how out of control the bushes had grown this year. Wishing I had done a better job of shrub maintenance and care. But I came to the task an amateur. I took no courses, followed no probationary track, I just became a forsythia guardian. I tried my best. I fed and watered them. I tried to force my will on their growth patterns. But despite my efforts they grew into their own space. One too tall to be called a shrub, towers over the fence. Long yellow arms reaching for the blue sky. The other neither square or round like the ones I see in other yards and in books. Rather, an unusual oval of buttery blossoms bending toward the lawn.
And I think I know why I love them.It’s been and adventure trying to shape them, not unlike the one I’ve enjoyed as a mother. You see I came to the task an amateur. I took no classes, I followed no probationary track. I just fed, watered and loved them. I tried to shape my children in all the usual ways. Say “please and thank you.” Do your homework. Be honest. Be kind. And now in the sunshine of a Sunday, one just about to step into college the other already out, they are magnificent. Their father and I did the best we could, but really the sun and the sky, the rain and the soil were already here. They may not be perfect specimens, but they are themselves. Reaching for the sky. Full of a bounty of color and verve.
We all do the best we can as mother’s and fathers. We want them healthy and happy.But even as we try to shape them into successful adults we have so little control into the shape they will finally embrace. It is well enough to see them strong and tall becoming their own true definition of themselves.
The forsythia is beautiful this year. I’m glad I can appreciate how well it’s doing with and in spite of my best efforts.
I’m just say’n.