This is my favorite time of the year to be a gardener.
I keep the plant and seed catalogues next to the toilets and use them for my daily reflective reading. They supplanted the zen discourses of Huang Po as soon as they arrived after Christmas. While I miss the inspiration of Mr. Po’s pithy responses to challenging questions, he’s no match for vivid photos of the razzle-dazzle of vegetative reproduction. By now my copies of White Flower Farm and Johnney’s Seeds are well-thumbed with half-a-dozen or so pages dog-eared for further consideration.
As I flip through the lush images and alluring descriptions, I imagine the Temple gardens in full bloom. I don’t ‘see’ individual plants or even an overview of the whole landscape. Everything is fuzzy and pretty—a sweet jumble of colors, shapes and textures—all alight in my mind’s eye. I am tantalized with the subtle feeling of the delight in what might be.
It’s a time of dreaming and gathering possibilities. All instigated, I suspect, by the returning of the light. The bitter chill of winter continues unabated, but the sun is rising earlier. Through the southern window, I greet his fierce brilliance with downcast eyes from my seat in the zendo. It’s not the timing I notice as much as the mounting evidence of his slow journey northward. Each clear morning he summits the neighbor’s roof-top at a slightly different place. Now no longer appearing next to the chimney, but nearly to the northern corner.
I am quietly amazed at this whirling wisdom of space and time—this earthy sentience tilting, spinning, and revolving. My mammalian brain grateful for the vision of possibility—even while everything appears still frozen solid.